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It is possible for a child to learn how to sort out problems in a way that makes everybody happy. Often people deal with conflict aggressively, and try to convince other people that their way is the best by force or argument. Good conflict resolution skills do not seem to be used in most of the conflicts we see or hear about (such as in the family home, in films and on television, in the school yard, on the news). However, there are excelent ways of dealing with conflict that lead to a peaceful solution.

The following steps are useful in helping children find peaceful ways of solving problems with other people. You can change the way you ask the questions depending on the age of the child, but the general steps are the same for all ages:

- Begin by letting children know that it is possible to find a good solution. Parents could say something like: "I'm sure if we all think about this we might find a way of everyone getting what they want".

- Help children identify how they are feeling, and help them to label and express their emotions. (eg.: 'You're looking cross - I'm wondering if you're feeling cross, but also a bit sad and hurt that you can't join in  their game').

- Help children to work out what they really want by asking them what they would like to have happen. Help them to work out what the underlying is (eg. : "You say you wish your friend would go away. I'm wondering if you are also wishing that you could help the group build the cubby")

- Help your child to understand the other person's point of view. Ask them what they think the other person might be feeling, or how they might feel if they were in the same situation. You could get them to ask the other person to say how they are feeling and what they would like to have happen.

- Together, you could encourage the children to brainstorm different ways that they could solve the problem. Encourage them to come up with several different and interesting ways that they could go about it.

- Help the children to choose the options that they think work best for everyone, and get them to have a go at putting them into practice. Stay around to see how they get on, and help them fine-tune the solution if needed.

- Reading children books that teach conflict resolution skills through stories can also be helpful. (Parent guide to helping children manage Conflict, Aggression and Bullying)

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