Do your little ones argue too much?

Activities for Young Children Regarding Conflict Resolution

by Kelly Sundstrom

You might get tired of hearing your little ones crying and screaming at each other. Why can't they just get along, right? Sometimes children just squabble -- almost as if they are drawn to battle with one another. Don't despair; you can help your toddlers and preschoolers get along better by helping them learn how to resolve conflicts on their own in a positive and peaceful way.

1. Puppet Play

When children see puppets acting out different conflicts, it can help them to see the situation in a whole new way and from a perspective they might not have been able to achieve otherwise. Try to plan out different conflicts ahead of time, maybe a few that your children actually have difficulties with, and pick out puppets that the children will identify with. Don't make the puppet play too obvious, but create scenes that are both humorous and emotional. For example, you can have one of the puppets take something from another puppet, then show the second puppet act sad and upset. Act out appropriate responses and apologies so that the children can see how to resolve conflicts in the right way.

2. Conflict Resolution Songs

Some children's songs can help you talk to your kids about the right way to resolve conflicts. You can even start to sing a few conflict resolution songs right when your children start to go at it in order to distract them in an educational way. Stick with songs that are simple and get the message across, like "Make Good Choices," by Miss Jenny, "Fighting is Not the Solution," by Children’s Songs for Peace and a Better World and "We can get Along," by Treasure Attic. The best part is, once your children start to memorize the songs, they will begin to sing them for fun, which will act as a constant reminder for them to try and get along with others.

3. Helpful Books and DVDs

It's easy to feel frustrated when your little ones start to argue and fight with each other. In the moment, it can be hard to know what to say without sounding flustered and bewildered. Let a few well-thought-out books and DVDs help you talk to your children about how to resolve conflicts. Make sure that the books are colorful and that the DVDs are designed with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Try out books like "Oh, Bother! Someone's Fighting!" by Nikki Grimes, "Why Are You Fighting, Davy?" by Brigitte Weninger and Eve Tharlet, and "The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight" by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Or, watch some great DVDs, like "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: Friendship" or "Hailey & Bailey's Silly Fight: It's About Getting Along."

4. Conflict Resolution Art Activities

Certain arts and crafts activities can be helpful when you teach your little ones about getting along and resolving conflicts in a positive way. Keep the crafts simple so that toddlers and preschoolers can successfully complete them, but make sure they will get the message across. Help your children trace around one of each of their hands on construction paper, then show them how to cut out and paste the hands together on another sheet of paper. Make the hands hold each other in a peaceful and comforting way. Or, have your children stamp their thumbs repeatedly into washable ink and onto a sheet of paper to make a thumbprint scene that shows an argument. Draw faces on the thumbprints with a pen or pencil, and add a conflict that could happen. Once finished, talk about the scene together and make a new thumbprint picture that shows a better way to handle the situation.

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