Free Spirit Publishing 1.800.735.7323

Finding Your Way Through Conflict

Strategies for Early Childhood Educators


Conflicts are inevitable, often hard to navigate, and can quickly multiply and become unmanageable. And resolving conflict requires self-reflection, understanding, and vulnerability. But knowing how to tackle difficult conversations will strengthen relationships, create a more equitable community, and improve the impact educators have on the young children they work with.

The first of its kind, Finding Your Way Through Conflict specifically focuses on conflict in early childhood education settings and gives concrete steps and strategies to help manage and resolve it productively.

Authors Chris Amirault, Ph.D., and Christine M. Snyder, M.A., have decades of experience in early childhood education programs and conflict resolution. Built on their expertise and their own experiences, the book’s conflict scenarios are engaging and authentic, empowering educators to get in and out of conflict in a variety of personal, organization, and cultural contexts.

Some of these scenarios include:
  • The Discombobulated Team: The children’s artwork you posted in the classroom yesterday is gone. Who took it down—and why?
  • The Intent/Impact Disagreement: You were only trying to help! So why is that parent offended?
  • The Unexpected Disaster: Your team planned every aspect of that difficult parent meeting for days. So why was it such a catastrophe?
A free PLC/Book Study Guide is available at
Read More


Paperback $29.99 84945 Paperback 84945 $29.99

View where you can purchase the eBook.

ISBN: 978-1-63198-494-5
Illustrated: 1-color
Audience: Early childhood educators, directors, administrators, and coaches
Trim Size: 7.25" x 9.25"
Page Count: 168
Praise for Finding Your Way Through Conflict

“Amirault and Snyder offer a unique perspective not on resolving conflicts among children, of which much has been written, but on those between the adults who work with them. Drawing on research and experience, they confront an uncomfortable topic with honesty and compassion, combined with practical solutions and encouragement. The authors convincingly argue that you must get into the ‘mess’ in order to find your way out of it. Then, step-by-step, using a wide range of scenarios, they guide readers through the tangled weeds and sticky swamps toward a clearing of the air. Finding Your Way Through Conflict is a timely and valuable manual in an era when conflict, often unrecognized, let alone openly acknowledged, divides us personally and politically, as well as professionally. The book offers readers the work and life skills we all need now. Once learned, and continually relearned, we can pass them on to the next generation.”—Ann S. Epstein, Ph.D., author of The Intentional Teacher
“A thank you is in order for Chris and Christine as they offer this vulnerable, insightful, and thought-provoking inquiry into understanding conflict. With decades of early learning expertise and through layering personal encounters that are inherent in the work of serving others, the authors share their own conflicts as well as the toolkit they’ve developed to assist the reader in handling a range of situations. Far from a one-size-fits-all presentation of magic solutions, this book offers strategies and research that will guide the reader in developing skills for reflection, learning, and improvement. In the words of Chris and Christine, ‘If you do not learn these skills, conflict will erase and silence the very people you seek to serve.’ If you work to serve children and families, you’ll want to read this book.”—Vincent J. Costanza, Ed.D., advisor, Bright Start Foundation Advisory Council
“This book is for anyone who wants to feel more confident and capable in handling those keep-you-up-at-night disagreements and simmering resentments. Amirault and Snyder explain the skills, tactics, and mindset you need to turn inevitable conflicts into opportunities for collaboration and growth. Brimming with practical advice and useful insights, this book will not only change how you approach relationships with coworkers, parents, and children, it’ll transform how you approach your life.”—Amy Gallo, contributing editor at Harvard Business Review and author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict
“For those in search of critical dialogues and healthy resolutions for countless conflicts teachers face at work, this book offers invaluable insights and innovative perspectives. No doubt that this is a product of years of careful observation, self-reflection, caring, and extraordinary dedication of the authors to the early childhood workforce. It is a true gift from the most respected leaders to the field.”—Kyong-Ah Kwon, associate professor, University of Oklahoma
Finding Your Way Through Conflict is a timely and timeless book for early childhood educators seeking to improve the early childhood experience for all children and adults. Conflict is a way of life and living, and we must go through it to become better human beings. Chris Amirault and Christine Snyder, long-time early childhood professionals, remind us that conflict resolution is not just about managing children’s emotions, but adults managing themselves and the environments they create. Effectively embracing and addressing conflicts will strengthen relationships adults have with each other and with children. We must check our power, privilege, and biases at the door when resolving conflicts to ensure healthy and affirming relationships.”—Iheoma U. Iruka, Ph.D., chief research innovation officer and director of the Center for Early Education Research & Evaluation, HighScope Educational Research Foundation

“Bravo, Chris and Christine! This is a phenomenal body of work that gets to the heart of the nitty-gritty details of understanding, being curious, and engaging in conflict resolution. It is applicable on so many levels in so many settings that it should be required study for the early childhood care and education workforce. It highlights the ‘importance of collaborating through difficulty’ and addressing conflict, which authentically builds the relationships that are essential for working with each other, children, and families. Use of reflective practice, another key component of our work, provides the platform for exploring conflict and engaging on the journey of conflict resolution. 
“What a fascinating opportunity to explore ‘living in the ambiguous zone’ and embracing its potential to strengthen one’s personal resolve and create a deeper understanding of self in relation to conflict resolution. At a time like this when stress and conflict abound in our society, this book addresses how cultural, diversity, power, and structural inequalities and equity issues are often sources of conflict that must be part of addressing and resolving conflict. 
“A must-read and study guide for those interested in exemplary early childhood care and education. Walk into the fear, break the organizational silence, stay curious and courageous, and do this work!”—Cynthia D. Jackson, executive director, Educare Learning Network 
Join Free Spirit’s edWeb community, Social-Emotional Learning, Positive Behavior, and Student Achievement, to take a short quiz based on the webinar below and earn a free CE credit.

Related Resources

PLC Finding Your Way Through Conflict
Strategies and activity ideas to support emotional development in children.
Be prepared to respond to a wide range of potentially tough questions posed by young children.
Mindful Classrooms
Intentional Teaching in Early Childhood
Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior

User Reviews

Sort By:
April 13, 2021 / Annette
Very Helpful

This book has been very helpful in my work as an early childhood special educator. It is organized, well written, and provides great examples and insights. I found the chapter on Building and Rebuilding Trust to be especially helpful in my work. I highly recommend this book to anyone who works collaboratively.

December 7, 2020 / Jim Keena - Michigan
A very compelling guide for conflict management

THE authors have produced a compelling resource for improving conflict management skills. While the book focuses on conflict management in the discipline of early childhood development, I found it to be useful and insightful for all collaborative environments where conflicts can arise. The book is an organized, structured, and very readable approach to understanding the nature of conflicts and how to resolve them effectively and professionally. I highly recommend this book for anyone who frequently collaborates in stressful environments involving clients and associates.


Free Spirit’s monthly e-newsletter, Upbeat News, is full of practical tips, free downloads, and special offers. Sign up today!