Approaches to conflict and conflict resolution in toddler relationships

Nicole Ashby, Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    The importance of conflict and its resolution for children's short- and long-term adjustment has been well established within the research literature. Conflict and conflict resolution differs according to a number of constructs, including age, gender and relationship status. The purpose of this study was to explore conflict origins, resolution strategies and outcomes in two pairs of toddler friends and two pairs of toddler acquaintances aged between two years and two months and two years and ten months. The dyads were composed of either two boys or two girls. Conflict events were of a reduced number between friends than acquaintances, with time spent in conflict lower for friend pairs. Standing firm and yielding were the preferred resolution strategies of both groups, with outcomes for both acquaintances and friends predominantly win/lose. Gender differences were also evident. Girl dyads engaged in more conflict events and spent an increased amount of time in conflict than boy dyads. Yielding was the dominant resolution strategy employed by boy pairs, whilst girl pairs favoured standing firm. Win/lose outcomes were the dominant conflict resolution outcome for both boy and girl dyads. Taken together, these findings provide further evidence for the relational nature of conflict, and highlight the need for further research examining conflict and conflict resolution in toddler relationships.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-161
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Early Childhood Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


    • conflict
    • conflict resolution
    • toddler relationships


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