How to help resolve conflicts easily and effectively for children with autism

Conflict resolution is always a challenging situation. Everyone is faced with the challenge of balancing their emotions while speaking out and expressing how we really feel. For children and adults on the autism spectrum, conflict resolution can be even more difficult when you aren’t sure what is or isn’t appropriate to say, or how to best express your feelings.

 

Remind your child that all feelings and emotions are valid. Help teach them to take a moment to recognize how they feel by acknowledging what is bothering them and actually telling you (or the person involved in the conflict) how it makes them feel. Even using simple statements like “That makes me feel …” or ‘I’ statements like “I felt left out because…” can be helpful in order to understand where each child stands. Stress the importance of being honest and recognizing their own role in the conflict.

 

Allow everyone time to calm down and cool off, even let them walk away for a minute if they need to. You can even talk to each child separately to get the full story, offering them time to breathe and evaluate their own feelings before confronting one another. Each child may have their own strategy for calming down, from just taking a break, playing with someone else, counting to 10, or even writing down their thoughts and feelings.

 

When resolving the conflict, make sure all parties involved listen as well as talk. Everyone should get a chance to be heard, to tell their side of the story, and to speak about their emotions. Conflicts are not competitions with one winner, but rather a challenge for both parties involved to overcome together.

 

Once every side of the story has been told, make sure to apologize. Be sure to have your child use the words “I’m sorry,” and specifically state what went wrong and how they can improve for next time so that a similar conflict does not happen again. Encourage them to come up with their own solution that they think of and can agree on. These solutions are more likely to stick, rather than you generating a solution for them.

 

Overall, it’s important to make sure everyone is heard and no emotions are ignored. Having a few strategies up your sleeve that your child can rely on in times of conflict will be helpful in acknowledging what’s wrong and move forward from there.

 

References:

Deloya, Hailey. How to Teach Students to Solve Conflicts with Peers. Retrieved from: http://autismtank.blogspot.com/2018/01/how-to-teach-students-to-solve.html

Disabled World. People with Autism: Communication and Conflict Resolution. Retrieved from: https://www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/conflicts.php   

Ori, Jack. Conflict Resolution For People With Aspergers. Retrieved from: https://thesjadvocate.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/conflict-resolution-for-people-with-aspergers/

Monke, Audrey. 5 Steps to Help Kids Resolve Conflicts. Retrieved from: http://sunshine-parenting.com/2015/05/08/5-steps-to-help-kids-resolve-conflicts/