Natural Conflict Resolution

By Filippo Aureli; Frans B. M. De Waal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Conflict Management in
Children and Adolescents
Peter Verbeek, Willard W. Hartup, & W. Andrew Collins

Introduction

Successful social development reconciles individuation with social integration and requires the acquisition of conflict management skills that afford both. The interplay between individual and social motives is already apparent in conflict between toddlers. For instance, Hay & Ross (1982) found that 21-month-old winners of toys would often abandon the toy they had just taken from a peer in order to engage in a new dispute over another toy held by the former opponent. Such tendencies were common even when the toy held by the other was an exact copy of the toy originally won. Earlier, Eckerman et al. (1979) showed that to one-year-old children the attractiveness of a toy increased after another person touched it. Thus toddler conflict may serve to test the “social waters” and may be instrumental in the acquisition of knowledge about social relations as well as ownership.

In this chapter we trace the development of conflict management skills from toddlerhood through adolescence, beginning with a brief overview of contemporary conceptualizations and proceeding with a discussion of what we currently know about conflict management in two principal arenas: the family and the peer group. We then consider how socioeconomic and cultural conditions affect the development of conflict management skills. We present our discussion within the framework of relationship theory and practical implications regarding adult mediation of children's conflicts.

Throughout development interpersonal conflict can take many forms, ranging from isolated

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