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Our children's vibrant smiles light up our days, relieve our stress, and are our main focus in life. We work hard daily to see these smiles, but conflicts often take them away. Help your children learn about conflict resolution on the playground by understanding:

  • Why Conflict Resolution Skills Are Important for Kids
  • Common Playground Conflicts and How to Address Them
  • Effective Conflict Resolution Activities for the Playground
  • Role of Teachers and Supervisors in Mediating Playground Disputes
  • Tips for Encouraging Positive Communication Among Children

Why Conflict Resolution Skills Are Important for Kids

The importance of conflict resolution skills for kidsis vital. These skills help children to:

  • Better interact with family, friends, and teachers.
  • Build empathy, to better understand others.
  • Improve cooperation with each other.
  • Enhance their problem-solving skills.

Common Playground Conflicts and How to Address Them

Conflicts can happen anywhere, and with our kids usually at school, they’re prone to having these common conflicts at the playground:

  • The playground equipment is limited, so children usually have conflicts with waiting for each other's turn or sharing the equipment.
  • Everyone has a different definition of fun, causing misunderstandings due to differences in play styles.
  • Changing the rules to gain an unfair advantage may result in disagreements.
  • Competition is good for improving one's skills but can lead to rivalries.
  • Struggles for control over specific playground equipment or leadership roles on the playground may become a catalyst for problems.
  • Mitigating accidental physical contact is always our top priority, but it still occurs and causes tensions.
  • Nobody wants to be excluded, especially on the playground; this may exacerbate conflicts.

These conflicts occur every day on playgrounds; with that in mind, we should teach our children how to approach these circumstances:

  1. Recognize and Acknowledge the Conflict: Show kids how to spot conflicts and talk about what they're feeling.
  2. Active Listening: Encourage the children to repeat what their friend said; this practice will help them listen effectively when others speak.
  3. Perspective Taking: Teach the children to recognize how the other person feels; this validates each other's emotions and helps them connect.
  4. Develop Solutions Together: You don’t necessarily have to tell them the solution; you can be their guide and lead them there. This would enhance problem-solving and collaboration skills.
  5. Follow-up: You can never be sure that conflicts will not resurface between them, so follow up if the plan is working. 

The steps above can be incorporated into these playground conflict resolution strategies:

  • Encourage Communication: Teach children to use "I feel" statements to express their emotions without blaming others. Encouraging phrases like "I feel..." and "I need..." help children articulate their needs without aggression.
  • Implement Clear Rules: Establishing clear playground rules about sharing, turn-taking, and respectful behavior helps set expectations and reduce conflicts.
  • Mediate Disputes: Teachers and supervisors play a crucial role in mediating disputes by guiding children to find mutually agreeable solutions.

Effective Conflict Resolution Activities for the Playground

Have children participate in structured activities to enhance their conflict-resolution skills:

  • Role-Playing Scenarios: One way to teach the children how to identify conflict is by role-playing. They can enact scenarios that may be new to them, and that you can help them navigate. Making kids aware of different points of view fosters empathy. 
  • Peace Path: Set an area on your playground with prompts to help children resolve conflicts. It encourages children to use “I” statements and see each other’s perspectives, helping them understand each other more, and develop solutions together.
  • Collaborative Games: Introduce games that require children to collaborate and communicate with each other to achieve a common goal. These would naturally boost their confidence and conflict-resolution skills.

The Big Book of Conflict Resolution Games, available as a resource on Washington State University’s website, has a list of games and their procedures, that your children can play at the playground. For example:

  • Helium Loop: To improve teamwork and communication skills.
  • Cross Over: To encourage creative thinking and teamwork.
  • Speed Pass: To consider multiple solutions for solving a problem, and to collaborate as a team.

Role of Teachers and Supervisors in Mediating Playground Disputes

Teachers and supervisors are crucial in handling playground conflicts. Effective mediation involves:

  • Observation: Keep an eye on the children and approach them immediately when conflicts arise.
  • Model Positive Behavior: Children learn many habits by copying adults. Teachers should set an example by demonstrating calm and respectful conflict resolution.
  • Facilitate Discussions: Encourage children to discuss their conflicts and express their feelings in a safe and guided environment. This helps the children articulate their emotions and understand the point of view of the other person.
  • Provide Tools and Strategies: Teach children conflict resolution strategies, such as taking deep breaths, walking away to cool down, and using "I feel" statements. Equip children with these tools to help them resolve conflicts independently.

You can incorporate Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) to empower your teachers on conflict resolution.

According to Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), teachers who integrate SEL into their teaching practices report higher job satisfaction and lower stress levels.

Structured SEL programs provide teachers with explicit instructions to teach students social and emotional competencies, such as conflict resolution.

Tips for Encouraging Positive Communication Among Children

Positive communication is the crux of conflict resolution. Help children master this skill using the following tips:

  • Active Listening: Teach children to listen by looking at the speaker and not interrupting. This tip helps them understand others' perspectives and respond thoughtfully.
  • Encourage Expressiveness: Encourage children to use "I" statements (e.g., "I feel sad when...") This helps them express their feelings without blaming others and communicate feelings constructively.
  • Promote Empathy: Build empathy by doing activities, like letting the children tell how characters in a story might feel. Understanding others' emotions helps children respond more compassionately to conflicts.
  • Set Clear Rules: Establish and consistently enforce respectful communication and behavior rules.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Recognize and praise positive communication and conflict resolution efforts.


Teaching children conflict resolution skills is essential to their social development and well-being.

Create a harmonious playground environment by emphasizing the importance of these skills, addressing common playground conflicts, and participating in effective conflict resolution activities. 

Teachers and supervisors play critical roles in resolving conflicts and encouraging positive communication. 

Through consistent efforts and strategic interventions, we can help our children constructively navigate conflicts, ensuring their playground experiences are enjoyable and educational. 

Let us commit to providing our children with the tools they need to resolve conflicts peacefully and develop into empathetic, cooperative individuals.

Further Reading

One of the root causes of playground conflicts may be bullying. Read more here:


Learn about the author: Nic Breedlove