how to resolve family conflicts

Resolving conflict is an essential life skill that parents and children can learn, and yet is rarely taught.  It is the art of working out exactly what you want at the end of an argument and how you are most likely to achieve it. It involves carefully considering the needs of the other person and understanding them before putting across your case in a way they are more likely to hear

We cover how to resolve family conflicts in our Calming kids course.

Have a look at the following worksheet and see if you could use it with your partner to resolve a disagreement. Copy it on to a sheet and teach your children to use it to deal effectively with disagreements and enhance your family harmony.


Fill out before you talk to the other person about the problem.

  • Am I calm? Have I had time to cool off and think clearly?
  • Do I know exactly what happened? –exactly what was said? Have I got both sides of the story? Do I need to speak to anyone to find out some more information?
  • Can I plan to have the conversation in private?
  • If the conversation does not go well is there anything else I can do / someone else I can talk to?


(If the other person does not want to work it out –or the conflict gets too emotional or physical, walk away.  Say ‘I can’t talk to you when you keep shouting at me. We can talk again when you are calmer’)

  • What will I say to start the conversation? Can we talk about…? Is now a good time to discuss…? Can I talk to you about something? (Can you say this using I messages? I feel….. when …..Please could we have a chat about it?) [/su_list]


  • What do I want out of the discussion? What would be the best outcome?


  • What will be the best way to approach the conversation to get what I want?


Plan to keep your voice calm, confident and clear and make eye contact during your discussion

Plan to -describe the situation that you want to change- rather than criticising them.
Use words that are not emotive or judgemental. ‘I felt….. when …. happened and I’d like to chat about it’

When you are ready to talk to the other person:

  • Say: ‘I’d like to understand your side, could you explain what you feel / think?’
    • Listen- to what they have to say and respect their point of view
    • Repeat back- what you have heard. Let them correct you if they feel you haven’t understood

If they get upset, ask why and what you did to make them feel that way-apologise if appropriate

(If they change the subject say ‘I know that’s important to you and we can talk about that another time, but at the moment I’d like to discuss this’)

  • Now ask ‘Is it OK to explain my side of the problem?’ or ‘Can I just explain my side…?’

I feel


When _____________________________________________________________________________

I would like


  • Say ‘Can we just look at some things we could do to sort this out?’

Have a brainstorm of all the different ways you could resolve the problem

  • Negotiate and try to reach a solution or compromise that is acceptable to both of you.
  • Finish the conversation with a ‘thank you’, a kind word or a hug (if appropriate)

Try and use the ideas in the worksheet to solve arguments and resolve disagreements in your household. And please come back and let me know how you get on. You can leave your comment in the box below.

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

Need help now? Ready to explore whether investing in some tailor-made parenting sessions would be right for you and your family? Book your FREE 20-minute call with Elizabeth here