Conflict Resolution Skills and Activities for Elementary Students 

By Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min
All the skills to handle disagreements on their own!

As a school counselor, your day can be filled with the latest conflict or issue between students. You are left trying to help them resolve things and get back to class. As part of classroom lessons or small group, you can help students develop conflict resolution skills that that they can use independently. In this blog post, talk about those key skills for elementary students and strategies for teaching these them step by step. 

Teach Simple Calming Strategies

When you teach students to independently resolve conflicts, you have to first teach them how to calm down. It's impossible to really problem solve without doing some self-regulation. Keep this simple. Stick with straightforward exercises like deep breathing or positive self-talk.

This post has 6 different breathing exercises you can teach elementary students. 

Do you have pipe cleaners and some beads? Try this hands-on craft.

Calming exercises for kids are best when they are simple and engaging. While we can fill baskets with calming tools or teach students yoga poses, it's even better to start

6 Simple Breathing Exercises for Kids

Deep breathing is one of the best calming strategies you can teach your students. It's effective and they always have it with them. While it is simple, students often need

Hands On Calming Strategy Activity for Deep Breathing

If you want to dive into calming strategies and help students find the ones that work for them, try this lesson with a strategies checklist.

Brainstorm Common Scenarios

To understand conflict resolution, students need lots of practice using scenarios that are familiar to them. Start by brainstorming situations they have experienced lately or have seen happen with others. They can use real-life examples or pull from books.

To help them generate situations, use categories like where problems happen, with which people, or what kind of events. For example, what conflicts can happen at recess, on the bus, or home? What conflicts do they have with close friends, classmates, or teachers? What comes up when you have to share or do group work?

Students can brainstorm ways to handle this, take each person's perspective, or plan what to do when this happens. Once students understand the steps for conflict resolution, they can use these scenarios to role-play.

Conflict Resolution Skills Lesson

Active Listening Skills

When we are actively listening to someone, we clear our minds and genuinely try to think about what they are saying. Students can show they were listening by restating what they heard and checking it's what they meant. During conflict resolution, you also want to acknowledge any feelings you heard.

"I heard you say that you felt frustrated with me when we did the group project because you felt like you had to do most of the work."

Active listening can be practiced during typical classroom or counseling activities.

Activity Ideas

  1. Have students take turns sharing something that happened to them in the past week, encouraging active listening by asking follow-up questions.
  2. Play "Simon Says" and have the students focus on actively listening for specific instructions or words before executing a task. Use this as a quick transition activity.
  3. Read a story together and encourage participation by having each student summarize or retell what they heard for the part of the story they were listening to.
  4. Give each student two index cards with questions written on them and ask them to switch cards with another student. The goal is for them to actively listen to their partner's answer.
  5. Write out scenarios that require active listening skills, such as a teacher explaining a difficult concept, and have students role-play those conversations.
Conflict Resolution Skills Lesson

Teaching I-Messages

I-messages are an assertive way of communicating how you feel or what you need in a way that is direct but also without blame. For example, "I feel frustrated when I have to clean up after dinner because it's not one of my jobs."

These messages can be helpful during a conflict. Students could also follow up with an "I need" statement that communicates what kind of resolution they are looking for.

Activity Ideas

  1. Have students play a game of "I-statements" where each student takes turns describing an emotion they've recently felt and why using only “I-statements” for communication.
  2. Have students practice role-playing different scenarios (like a disagreement) and try to find a way to resolve it while focusing on using positive language such as “I-messages”.
  3. Introduce the concept of an "emotional sandwich" and practice constructing "I-messages" that wrap positive statements around the difficult message being communicated.

Practice Compromise

A big part of conflict resolution is learning to come up with possible solutions that everyone can agree to.

Activity Ideas

  1. During a disagreement, have the students write down what they understand and agree on. This helps them focus on things that both sides can agree on, which can give ideas on how to compromise.
  2. Talk about situations where compromises might be needed, like deciding who should do what chores at home or how to decide what to play at recess.
  3. Create an activity where the students work together to plan or design something using limited resources, encouraging collaboration and creativity to reach a compromise.
Conflict Resolution Skills Lesson

Taking Responsibility

At the end of any conflict, it's crucial that everyone take responsibility if they need to. Students benefit from seeing adults model this, but can also practice and benefit from some guidance.

Give them a template for writing out an apology. Keep it simple and open so they can write their own words.

You can also use a repair plan with students where they consider the impact of their actions and how they can fix or improve them.

Put It All Together

As students are practicing conflict resolution skills, create a peace table or peace notebook with helpful step-by-step visuals.

Check out this post for the simple 6-step process.

Shop The Post

Conflict Resolution Lesson

This step-by-step process to resolve conflicts provides students with a consistent and fair framework. Students will learn key skills such as assertive communication, calming strategies, and problem-solving.

Conflict Resolution Lesson

Conflict Resolution Lessons

Students will learn a 6 step conflict resolution process including calming down, sharing feelings, brainstorming solutions, choosing a solution, and taking responsibility. 

More Posts Like This

I’m a school psychologist who left her office (closet?) and got busy turning a decade of experience into ready to use counseling and SEL resources.

I live in New York City with my adventurous husband and relaxed to the max daughter who’ve grown to appreciate my love of a good checklist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. I was going through many articles based on student counselling, your ideas are simply great.

    Teaching students how to calm down and regulate their emotions is foundational to effective conflict resolution. When emotions run high, rational thinking tends to take a backseat, making it challenging to find constructive solutions to conflicts.It's a vital skill that not only helps them navigate conflicts in the classroom but also equips them with a lifelong tool.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

You Might Also like

Check out these articles below