Teaching Special Needs Children to Resolve Conflicts

Teaching Special Needs Children to Resolve Conflicts

two teens working out a conflict

Learning how to resolve conflicts is an important part of a child’s social-emotional development and is an essential life skill. Conflicts are bound to arise in multiple aspects of a child’s life, whether it be at home or at school. Giving children the knowledge and tools to effectively resolve conflicts will help them understand that it’s normal to have disagreements with others and how to handle them in a constructive manner.

Social-Emotional Skills and Conflict Resolution

Before teaching children about the process of conflict resolution, instilling empathy – the ability to consider another person’s perspective – is critical. Other social-emotional and communication skills that are necessary for learning conflict resolution include:

  • Knowing how to identify and regulate emotions when faced with a disagreement or conflicting situation.
  • The ability to communicate with others in a composed manner, even when feelings of anger or frustration arise.
  • Problem-solving abilities such as identifying the source of the conflict and coming up with possible solutions.

Educational resources such as a visual feelings chart and interactive books can be helpful tools, especially for children with special needs who may struggle with verbal communication and emotional regulation. Other strategies for teaching conflict resolution include (but are not limited to):

  • Create a problem-solving wheel/conflict resolution worksheet to help students learn conflict analysis and decide upon a course of action.
  • Incorporate written activities to practice identifying a conflict, expressing emotions/concerns, and deciding upon the desired outcome.
  • Schedule group activities such as role-playing to give students an opportunity to strengthen their problem-solving abilities based on real-world scenarios.

Reinforcing social-emotional and communication skills on a daily basis will help children with special needs understand the concept of conflict resolution and learn how to apply these skills in real life.

As with teaching any new life skill, all children will have their unique strengths and may face different challenges. It is important to create an individualized approach to help make learning more engaging and effective. Of course, as children age, the types of conflicts they are presented with, and possible courses of action will often become more complicated and nuanced. Introducing and reinforcing the concept of conflict resolution at a young age will help students respond well to the conflicts they will face both inside and outside of the classroom.

lee vodfsky

Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.

Lee Vodofsky
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ