How do we begin to help children resolve conflict? Kids fight over many things. Arguing, or challenging one another, is typical and healthy. Adults, in our most sincere way, always want to step in and fix the problem. Many of you know that I attended the American Montessori conference a few weeks ago. I left the conference motivated and inspired by the people, content and ideas. I vowed to share some of what I learned with my readers. So, here is a write up on a presentation called “Peace at Last: Student-Based Conflict Resolution“. The presentation was led by Positive Discipline trainers and focused on ways to help us empower children to become effective independent and collaborative problem solvers. Below are my bullet points on how to resolve conflict between children.
How to Help Resolve Conflict Between Children
Identify Main Issues with Conflict in the Classroom (or home)
- People involved are still angry
- Not everyone impacted or involved in the conflict is brought to resolve the conflict
- Children need direct teaching of resolution skills
Criterion for Effective Conflict Resolution
- Help children gain a sense of connection, belonging and significance
- Awareness– “Do you remember a time when you were angry? How did that feel? How did your body feel?”
- The Brain in the Palm of the Hand concept by Dr. Dan Seigel is fascinating to me. He wrote a wonderful book called “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive”, that I highly recommend to you
- “Flip-Lid” concept indicates the importance of taking a break. Being upset actual negatively impacts the brain. When was the last time you thought clearly when you were upset?
- Mutual respectfulness and encouragement
- What made you feel better?”
- Long term
- Invite children to be a part of the solution
- Eliminate Punitive time outs because you lose a critical teaching moment and the child is left feeling not understood and unloved (“You learn better when you feel better.”)
- Create a space – a peace table, peace corner, etc – where children can calm down or talk. I am in love with Counting Coconuts Peaceful Space.
- Hold class meetings at consistent, predictable to work on problem solving, review old problems and introduce the new problems. It is not “there's a problem, let's have a meeting.” It is “Let's have our weekly meeting…” which gives ownership to the children.
- Social and Life skills
- Help children discover how capable they are by giving them opportunities
- Taking time for gratitude and self regulation will help children with empathy and understanding personal space
Toddlers and Preschool Conflict Resolution
- Model self regulation by taking deep breaths to calm down before resolving conflict
- Comfort and include the child
- “I see that Tommy is crying. What should we do to make him feel better?”
- “What happened when you hit Tommy?”
- “I noticed he fell over when you pushed him.”
- Model gentle touch
- Curiosity questions
- “Why is the bike not working?”
- Redirect the child to purposeful activity
- Never force a child to share
- “When do you want to share?”
- “When can Tommy have a turn?”
- “How will Tommy know when you are done?”
- Take the time to teach
- Use Photo Puppets (made from card stock) and act out a scenario
- Take time for gratitude.
- Share an appreciation with a child each day. This piece is deeply embedded in Maria Montessori's grace & courtesy lessons within the Practical Life curriculum. I will write more on this topic soon.
I'd love to hear your thoughts!