How to Settle an Argument Between Children

If you've ever worked with kids, then you know how difficult it can be to deal with a dispute that has led to tears or yelling, especially when each child is telling you something different happened. Knowing how to settle these disputes is a vital skill to have if you are a parent, teacher, babysitter, or camp counselor.


  1. 1
    Calm down the children so you can help them.
    • Reassure both children that you are listening, and will do your best to make things right.
    • If children are crying or angry, make sure you spend extra time on this step. Once children feel that they are being listened to, they will usually calm down.
    • If children are still crying, yelling, or talking over each other, tell them that you can't help them if they can't calm down enough for you to be able to understand them.
  2. 2
    • Ask each child to tell their side of the story, and try to understand what happened.
    • If one child tries to interrupt, tell them that they will get their turn, and that you can only listen to one person at a time.
    • Be unbiased. Even if one child is a troublemaker, give them an equal chance to state what happened.
    • If it's a he-said-she-said dispute, and you can't tell who is lying, ask another child or adult who was watching what they saw.
  3. 3
    Make a judgement.
    • Decide who was at fault for starting the dispute, and what they did that was wrong.
    • Usually, both children are at fault in some way.
  4. 4
    Tell the children what you think happened, and ask if they agree.
    • If only one child is disagreeing, explain to them why you think they are wrong, and describe your evidence.
    • If both children and/or bystanders are disagreeing, go back to step 2.
    • If you are unsure, say so. Tell the children that you are trying your best, but need more information.
  5. 5
    Dismiss the children, or enact consequences.
    • Explain why what the children did was wrong.
    • If both children are at fault, but one was trying to fight back, tell them to go immediately to you next time before the dispute escalates.
    • If the argument was over something which there was only one of, and both children are at fault, take the privilege or item away from both children.


  • Always be willing to listen, and give the children you full attention.
  • Use reflective listening techniques to help the children feel that they are being listened to, by repeating back simplified version of what they are saying.
  • Make eye contact with children at all times while they are talking.
  • Be unbiased, and don't shy away from uncertainty.
  • If you are feeling completely overwhelmed, it might be a good idea to get a supervisor, parent, or other more experienced adult to help you.


  • Never tell children to "get over it" or that it "isn't a big deal", especially if they are very upset. Although this may be true, it invalidates the child's feelings and will make them more angry and more difficult to work with.
  • If you don't care, try not to show it. Kids can tell when they aren't being listened to, and will be more likely to try to take justice into their own hands next time if they perceive that there isn't someone who is listening and who will try their best to make sure things are fair.

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Categories: Family Life