Dealing with disagreements

Year level: 3


Students learn to recognise problems in relationships and develop practical solutions to prevent or manage conflict.

Learning focus

Effective strategies that can be used to resolve conflict in groups or between friends.

Key understandings

  • Everybody is an individual and deserves respect.

  • People do not always get along.

  • There are good and bad ways to disagree.

  • It is important to disagree with someone in a way that does not upset the other person but also lets him/her know how we feel and what we want.


  • Student Activity Sheet: Good and bad ways to disagree [one per student]
  • 2 finger puppets

  • Student Activity Sheet: What way did they sort it out? [one per group]

General capabilities

No General Capabilities values have been selected.

Health and physical education(P)

Personal, social and community health

This strand will develop students' knowledge, understanding and skills to support a positive sense of self, to effectively respond to life events and transitions and to engage in their learning. Effective communication, decision-making and goal-setting skills are integral to this strand as they help to establish and maintain relationships in family, school, peer group and community settings, support healthy and safer behaviours, and enable advocacy. Students will source and examine a range of health information, products, services and policies, and evaluate their impact on individual and community health and safety.

Relationships and sexuality

Blooms revised taxonomy

No Blooms values have been selected.

Inquiry learning phase

No Inquiry Learning phase values have been selected.

Related items

Teaching resource (download) Guides

Before you get started

  • Teachers should know and understand the protective interrupting technique and what, why, when and how it is needed and used.

Learning activities

Whole Class

Students recognise conflict and identify appropriate strategies to support the problem solving process.

  1. Present the students with examples of conflict or problems from books (e.g. Wombat Stew, Horton Hears a Who!, The Very Cranky Bear, Monster Chef) or the media.

    • Invite the students to suggest what signs they saw that conflict was developing.

    • Invite suggestions of strategies for preventing the conflict.

    • Discuss whether the characters involved could have resolved the conflict or whether a third party was needed to intervene.  

  1. Brainstorm words or phrases that mean ‘disagreement’ (fight, argument, problem) and decide whether these words or phrases are positive or negative.

    • Explain that a fight is different to a disagreement and usually happens when things haven’t been sorted out properly and someone feels angry or hurt. Usually when people fight it’s because they don’t have the skills needed to disagree in a friendly way.

    • Explain that disagreements are a normal part of friendships and sometimes are a good thing because you sort things out. They occur when people don’t agree about what is fair or what should happen.

    • Brainstorm the types of things people their age have disagreements or fights about using the ‘no names’ rule. 

  1. Distribute the Student Activity Sheet: Good and bad ways to disagree to each student.

    • Explain that the activity sheet shows three different ways of dealing with disagreements:

      • Stingray (Aggressive): only interested in winning an argument; not worried about hurting other’s feelings; he/she threatens or hurts to get own way.

      • Jellyfish (Passive): is scared of disagreements and often pretends they are just not happening; gives in too easily because he/she fears they might lose a friend or because they are frightened.

      • Starfish (Assertive): stays calm and tries to sort out an argument with solutions where both people win; says sorry when wrong; asks for help to sort things out; says what he/she thinks or feels without getting angry.

    • Draw three Y-charts to explain what Stingray, Jellyfish and Starfish ways of dealing with a disagreement would ‘look like’, ‘sound like’ and ‘feel like’.

    • Using a volunteer student and one of the situations suggested in the second brainstorm above, model the Starfish skills. Discuss the aspects of the Y-chart that were used.

    • Explain that these skills make us feel happier but that is takes hard work to learn how to do them properly. It’s normal to disagree in a bad way, we all make mistakes.

    • Students complete the activity sheet and take home to share with their family. Encourage them to practise their Starfish skills at home with their family.

Independent or Small Group

Students use provided scenarios to identify good and bad ways to deal with disagreements and offer alternative strategies to deal with the bad ways.

  1. Revise the Y-chart developed in the Whole Class activity and then use finger puppets to model Stingray, Jellyfish and Starfish ways to deal with disagreements. Use disagreements suggested by the students. Focus on the skills needed to use the Starfish way and display them on the whiteboard:

    • Speak up in a calm way

    • Say what you feel and what you want

    • Say sorry if you are wrong

    • Ask the other person what they feel

    • Ask the other person what they want

    • Ask for help if you both can’t sort it out.

  1. Ask:

    • How do you think it would feel to solve a disagreement in a Jellyfish way?

    • How do you think it would feel to solve a disagreement in a Stingray way?

    • How do you think it would feel to solve a disagreement in a Starfish way?

    • Do you think practising Starfish ways of disagreeing could help you in real life? Why/Why not? 

  1. Have students form small groups with a parent helper or older student for each group. Give each group the Student Activity Sheet: What way did they sort it out?. Students decide whether each scenario is a Starfish, Jellyfish or Stingray way of sorting out a disagreement and then come up with an alternative Starfish way to deal with this disagreement.

    • Share findings and new suggestions. Have students vote on strategies that they think would work the best and role-play, if appropriate.   

  1. Ask:

    • How did you decide as a group what the best new Starfish way was for each scenario?

    • Did you have any challenges in deciding as a group?

    • If you were x in this scenario, how would you feel if you sorted out a disagreement this way?

    • Why is it important for us to consider the feelings of all people involved in a disagreement and be respectful towards each other?


When two students have a disagreement, ask them to go to a ‘We can work it out spot’ to try to resolve their problem. Have prompts written on a poster such as:

I feel…

I think you feel…

How do you feel?

One way we could solve our problem is…

What do you think?