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Falling out in the right way

To help children think about conflict management (SEAL theme 2: Getting on and falling out).

by Manon Ceridwen Parry

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To help children think about conflict management (SEAL theme 2: Getting on and falling out).

Preparation and materials

  • You could use pictures or images (or stuffed toys) of these conflict styles.
  • If you wish, put key words on PowerPoint. This would be helpful but is not strictly necessary.


  1. What kind of an animal are you? Are you a teddy bear, an owl, a fox, a turtle or a shark?

    What on earth am I talking about? Well, apparently we deal with falling out with other people in different ways, so I’ll explain.

    Think for a few moments about what you do when you fall out with your brother, sister or friend. Do you ignore the situation, get angry and want to hit out, or do you try to talk about it?
  2. So are you one of these animals? (Pause between each of the following animals to give the pupils a chance to think. Depending on the school, it may be appropriate to get the children to discuss in twos or threes which animal they think they are.)

    –  A teddy bear always gives in to others.
    –  An owl works with others to find an answer that makes everyone happy.
    –  A fox encourages everyone to give in a little, in other words, to compromise.
    –  A turtle avoids arguments, even when in the right.
    –  A shark wants to win at all costs – and doesn’t care what it takes, or the feelings of the other person.
  3. We might think that it’s important not to fall out with other people, always to be friends, never to argue. But, actually, sometimes what’s more important is how we fall out. Learning how to have arguments with people in the right way is an important part of growing up and of playing our part in our world.

    For example, a friend in school steals the pencil of another friend. Do we say nothing, and try to keep the peace? No. But a teddy bear would, teddies always give in. A turtle would ignore the fact that there is a problem in the first place. And a shark would go over and hit the friend. Then bring the pencil back.

    Obviously none of these ways is right! We need to be an owl or a fox. An owl would get everyone talking to each other to find a solution, and a fox would get everyone to give in a little, get the pencil back and maybe get the friend to lend the pencil for a little while.
  4. Everyone sometimes feels a little angry, or wants to fall out with someone else. Even adults find it difficult to be happy with everyone all the time. The important thing is to find ways of dealing with falling out that help to sort out the problem. 

    We can’t always ignore how we feel, nor should we ignore bad behaviour, such as a friend stealing a pencil. But if we learn how to talk to other people about how we’re feeling rather than ignoring them, sulking or, even worse, hitting or saying horrible things, we will have learned something very useful for the whole of our lives.
  5. So let’s be owls or foxes – talking about what makes us upset or angry, giving in a little, making sure other people are happy as well as ourselves.

Time for reflection

Think about a time when you fell out with a friend or family member. What could you have done differently that would have made the situation better?


‘I’m going to paint a perfect picture’ (Come and Praise, 83)

Publication date: November 2012   (Vol.14 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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