Our Brookridge Day School first grade class spent the month of October learning about conflict resolution. Each week we focused on a different aspect of conflicts and resolutions and how to handle them. We learned about feelings and why friends might disagree. Each week, we discussed and practiced our new skills. Our hope is that our children will feel empowered to solve their problems with their friends and express themselves respectfully when they disagree with one another.
First, we identified what a conflict was and brainstormed possible resolutions. This gave us a chance to share personal experiences and think of ways to solve various problems. Next, we talked about our big emotions and how sometimes our friends don’t always realize that they have hurt our feelings. This gave us a chance to practice expressing ourselves using I-statements: “I feel ____ when you ____, so please ____.” We now have a chart in our classroom to remind us all how to respectfully tell others how we feel.
Then, we introduced multiple strategies that the kids can use when they have a conflict. Some of our strategies include: take turns, share, take a break, compromise, talk it out, choose a new activity, rock paper scissors, or ask for help. Lastly, we learned how to respectfully apologize to another person: “I am sorry for ____. Next time I promise to ____. How can I make it better?” We talked a lot about how an apology is a promise to not do something again. We also had a chance to think about different things we could do to make it better. Some of these ideas include: write a nice note, do something kind for them, fix what you broke, give them a hug (if they want one), help them with something, and give them a compliment.
Throughout our unit on conflict resolution, we spent a lot of time practicing what we had been taught. At first, we had to prompt the kids how to tell their feelings. Before long, the kids were verbalizing these without help. Even now, we are finding that the kids are “talking the talk” to respectfully tell their feelings and apologize. It is great to see them come up with their own ways to try to make something better. This is such an important life skill, and we can’t wait to see these skills become second-nature to each of our children!
Do you want more information about this topic? Please visit https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/coaching-children-in-handling-everyday-conflicts/ or http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/schoolage-children/conflict-resolution-skills-for-kids.