Handling Conflict Respectfully At Home With Your Kids

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Key points

  • Conflict is natural in relationships. The important thing is how you handle it.
  • Constructive conflict management is good for your children and good for your relationship.
  • Sort out conflict by talking and listening, being respectful, seeing each other’s perspectives and taking time-out.
  • Keep conflict away from your children.

What is conflict?

Disagreements between partners, parents and children in a family is normal and natural but it’s HOW we handle conflict and disagreements that’s important!

Sometimes you can sort disagreements and flash points out quickly. At other times, it can be hard work finding solutions.

Conflict can range from disagreements that you can’t sort out & can be strong verbal arguments to physical fights. Conflict can also be uncomfortable silence, anger, and hostility.

Conflict happens. The important thing is how you handle it.

When we ‘talk and teach’ our kids about being kind, speaking with respect despite our differences, and working as a family ‘team’ everyone is likely to feel more positive, happy, and supported.

When your children see you working together on resolving your conflict with your partner it helps them learn valuable life skills like how to negotiate and solve problems effectively for themselves. It can also be comforting for your children to see you being optimistic about working out your differences in a respectful way

Children are looking, learning watching and listening to us as parents ALL the time so model the behaviour you want to see in your children as they will copy you.

Catch them doing something RIGHT and praise them – that really makes them feel good & their behaviour really improves!

  • Look at the triggers or ‘warning signs’

Are your kids tired, hungry, bored, or feeling left out?  Ask yourself: What do they need you to do to prevent these things – before they boil over? Bring a piece of fruit or a sandwich on the school pick up, put down your phone, stop scrolling on your computer, start paying real attention to them so they feel important?

Are you tired, running on empty or stressed? What do you need to remember to do about that to look after your own needs?

The earlier that children learn how to manage conflict with your help the sooner they can learn to do it by themselves.

  • 5 Quick Tips

STOP Don’t let things get out of control. Take a step back and try to calm down, since anger makes conflicts more difficult to resolve. Press your Pause Button https://sueatkinsparentingcoach.com/2023/01/my-pause-button-technique/

SAY?what the conflict is about. Take turns talking about the problem then say what each of you wants or doesn’t want. LISTEN to each other.

THINK?of positive options. What’s a fair solution that meets both of your needs?

CHOOSE?a positive option that everyone can agree on.

RESPECT?the opinions of others, even if you can’t agree.


  • Teach the Traffic Lights Technique

Ask your child to close their eyes and picture traffic lights.

When the red light is on, they should take three deep breaths and think of something calming.

When the light turns yellow, it’s time to think about what to do about the problem. (Can they handle this on their own? Do they need adult help?)

Think of two problem solving strategies that might work.

When the light turns green, choose a strategy (ask for help, go outside and run around, work on a compromise) and give that a try.

Using the red light to pause helps kids to understand the problem – then using the yellow light helps them to think of a solution- then the green light helps them take positive action.

The traffic lights help children to self-regulate or control their own behaviour – an important life skill.

Practice using the traffic lights as that helps your kids remember it.


  • Better Questions – Get Better Answers

Here’s a simple question to ask everyone

“What’s the best thing to do or say right now for everyone to feel good and win here?”


  • Name the Feeling

This technique helps kids express their strong emotion before it overwhelms them.

I feel………..angry, fed up, cross……


When you………. take my trainers, borrow my shirt, take my pencil case….


“Because ………….. you never give them back, look after them, listen to me…..


“I would like…………..you to ask me first, wait for me to finish playing with it….


  • Create a Problem-Solving Jar of CHOICES

Get a jar and decorate it with ribbon or stickers or glitter.

Get your kids to write on colourful strips of paper good ideas to help them to resolve their conflict.

When they are having trouble get them to pick one from the CHOICES Jar

Here are some helpful ideas:

  • Kind actions towards others
  • Use helping words instead of hurting words
  • Include others in the game or share the toy
  • Try something new
  • Change your voice and words – “stop, think, start again”
  • Speak kindly – no shouting
  • Be kind,
  • Be helpful
  • Be flexible
  • Be a problem solver

Make homemade badges of ‘I’m a problem solver’ to wear at home.

  • Positive Words:

Here are some tips and scripts to say to ‘Bee Positive’

‘‘I saw the way you cleaned up your toys without anyone asking. That was very ‘helpful’! Thank you for being so ‘helpful’ today”.

“I saw that you found something else to play with, even though you really wanted to play with that toy your sister had. Thank you for being kind.’’


  • Create a happy home by creating the ‘We’ Family Team. 


Make sure you ‘talk and teach’ and help to build ‘We’re all in this together as a family ‘ attitude – full of love for each other, respect for each other and kindness towards each other.



  • As a parent learn to RESPOND not REACT to your kids behaviour! 


Handling conflict respectfully at home with your kids isn’t easy BUT it is important.


Hope these tips helped!


Let me know in the comments below



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