IDEAL - A Simple Way To Solve Conflicts

What’s IDEAL?

IDEAL is an acronym that helps people remember steps to solve a problem. It can be used by adults or children. Here is an example of how IDEAL helps families help children solve conflicts with others:

Jane had a friend and her daughter Sally visiting her. Sally is playing with Emma, Jane’s daughter. The two girls are playing when all of a sudden 4 year old Sally starts screaming in pain. Emma, also 4 years old, had bitten her and grabbed her doll.


I—Identify the problem and the feelings involved
  • Approach the child aggressor. Use a calm voice and a gentle touch. Ask, "What is the problem?"
  • Acknowledge the child's feelings. Say, "You seem upset." Or “You seem angry." Help your child understand the feelings of the other child involved in the problem. (How do you think your friend is feeling?)
  • Gather information by asking the child or children what is wrong. Ask ,"Tell me what happened?"
D—Determine the possible or alternative solutions to the problem.
  • Restate the problem, using the information you have. (You are angry because your friend won’t let you play with the doll.)
  • Help the children think about the possible solutions.
E—Evaluate the merits of each possible solution.
  • Help the children think about consequences and choose one solution together.
A—Act, choosing the best solution.

Act on the choice. Talk with the child about the choice. Acknowledge and praise the ability of the child to do any of the following:calm down, tell how he or she is feeling, talk about the problem, think of a solution, act on the solution.

L—Learn from what you did to solve the problem

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