Parent Education: Strategies to Help Children Navigate Conflict

Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Supporting our students in developing social-emotional skills is just as important as academic development for us at Sea Crest. Even before SEL became a hot topic in education, this was a part of the ethos of the Sea Crest community. Supporting our students in this development is a partnership between school and home. Last December, our Director of Lower School, Michelle Giacotto, presented a workshop to families on conflict resolution for students. In that workshop, she offered the four steps to conflict resolution that we work through with our students:

  1. Calm Down/ Cool Off
  2. Communicate Feelings
  3. Find a Solution
  4. Communicate & Apologize


Mrs. Giacotto also offered some strategies for parents to support the conflict resolution process in ongoing practice at home and when difficult situations emerge.


  • Host Play Dates- Not only can play dates give parents an opportunity to get to know their child’s classmates, but they provide a foundation of camaraderie between the students that can be tapped into to resolve conflict.
  • Develop Tools to Manage Emotions- help children learn to calm themselves when needed and to find healthy, non-material ways to soothe sad feelings.
  • Be a Role Model – Rather than hiding conflict from children, model resolving conflicts healthily in person and by recounting experiences to your child.
  • Encourage your child to articulate feelings –Encourage your children, boys and girls, to identify their feelings and to allow space for those feelings to be self-managed.


  • Listen with Empathy- Make sure you have time and space to be fully present as your child describes their conflict and validate the feelings of everyone involved by hearing them empathetically
  • Respond, Don’t React– This can be challenging, but it is an opportunity to model good conflict skills for your child; rather than rushing to an opinion or an emotion, take the time to see the larger picture and respond thoughtfully.
  • Help frame perspective– As you consider the larger picture, help your child to do the same; ask prodding questions and suggest how the other side may see things to try to get both sides of the story and help your child to see the other side.
  • Don’t interview for pain– Don’t use language implies negative experiences are expected or what you’re looking to hear about. “Was Brian mean again today?” may be your way of acknowledging you are concerned about the past conflict with another child, but seeks to confirm continued negativity. Better to ask “how were things with Brian today?”
  • Help your child to solve problems independently– Rather than jumping to solutions of your own, help your child find her own with open questions such as: What did you try? How did it work? What else could you try?
  • Reach out to the teacher when needed to get more information- Teachers welcome the opportunity to bridge home and school, if you aren’t sure you have the full story, reach out to your child’s teacher for more information.

Supporting your child’s emotional well being and helping them to learn to navigate conflict appropriately is an important goal of our Social & Emotional Learning programs. It is how we fulfill our mission of creating children who act with compassion and lead with courage. We hope these strategies help parents work with their children to develop good conflict resolution skills.

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