How to teach a child to resolve conflicts

How to teach a child to resolve conflicts

 «If, from the first day at school, we show the children the value of their thoughts, their impressions, they will eventually get used to accepting the others’ thought and treating them with respect.»

✓ How to teach the children to resolve conflict situations with rational methods;
✓ What is the difference between the classes in «I am a Personality» course from traditional educational hours;
✓ What is the role of correct daily schedule in a child’s educaiton.

Iuliia Lykholit, expert in relations with children and teenagers, psychologist, tutor, speaker of TEDxKyiv, shares her experience.

  1. What is a conflict and why does it arise?

We face conflicts in our lives almost every day. Conflict is an opportunity of expanding your view of the world by accepting the other’s point of view, as well as the opportunity of improving your communication skills. The result of conflict resolution depends solely upon pir wish and ability to cooperate, to hear one another and to search for correct ways of its solving together.

  1. How to resolve conflicts between the children correctly?

A conflict may be regarded on two levels – the level of positions and the level of interests.

It is very ofthen that the children say: «I dont’t agree with you». You cannot solve a conflict at this level. You must go further and ask, for instance: «why don’t you agree with me? why is your opinion different?». This way, we de-escalate the conflict from the level of positions to the level of interests. And then we can have a dialog.

When the children in CISC have a conflict, we try to take it from the field of positions to the field of interest, since every child’s opinion is respected here. If the children sometimes disagree with one another, or there is a discussion of a certain matter, the teacher shows the value of each and every answer, the importance of variety of thoughts. Because if we all thought the same, no development and no new discoveries would be possible.

  1. Which methods can we use to teach a child to defend him/herself, own interests and personal space?   

The children must be taught the algoritms of actions in conflict situations. Do we know what to do if a mercury thermometer breaks? Sure! As concerns the conflicts, we also must have clear instructions to be imprinted deep in the conscious mind. It helps if we put informational posters on classroom walls, and have interesting conversations on such topics from time to time.

As concerns the methods, I think that it’s better to start with basic ones:

If you don’t like the way you are being treated: (1) – look your «opponent» in the eyes; (2) – put your hand forward and say «STOP»; (3) – describe your feelings and say that it it unpleasant for you; if none of this helps, (4) – adress an adult.

New Ukrainian School in its online course «Circle of choice» offers a set of methods – when many posters with variable solutions to a conflict are put on classroom walls. Depending on what happened, the child may choose the version of actions that suits for such situation. A student must be guided not by emotions but by a rational approach. There MUST be instructions, and they  must become a habit and become part of a child’s behaviour.

  1. What is the purpose of «I am a Personality» course in new Ukrainian school?

«I am a Personality» classes are the revised and expanded version of a usual «disciplinary hour». The purpose of these classes is for the child to actualize him/hreself within a group and in this world, to learn to interact with the others and to reveal own best aspects.

It is very important to break the stereotype that «disciplinary hours» are the lessons where you’re being scoulded and moralized. There are varoius ways of discussing a topic with children. And we don’t have to solve a child’s problematic situation  with participation of the classmates. We can give a general outline of the situation and discuss the ways of its resolution with the children. For example, we can show a picture with a graphical depiction of a conflict or an act of disrespect; we can ask the children what they think and what feelings, in their opinion, does the person in the poicture have.

This way, we can take the global experience and apply it to the level of a certain child’s experience without demonstrating the individual details, the name and the problems. We can discuss the situation, but we cannot and we do not have the right to moralize or humiliate any of the children.

At present, I’m working on the program of «I am a Personality» course for the junior classes of CISC – I’m developing the annual plan and the plan for each lesson. Each student will have a file with hand-out materials, among which there will be sheets for feedback to the teacher, indicating whether the lesson was interesting and understandable.  If we discuss time management at the lesson, there will be such questions in the workbook: Do you think it is important  to come on time? How would you define the concept of «time management»? And other questions that may help us understand whether the child has mastered the material.

  1. As concerns «disciplinary hours» at home. For example, a child doesn’t want to go to school, becomes  naughty, doesn’t want to switch off the cartoons. How can we de-escalate the conflict and guide the child’s energy to the right direction?

The children, especially in primary school, have a need to UNDERSTAND the algorithm and the subsequence of their actions. And this cannot be done without the parents’ help. Therefore, we have to adjust the family systme first.

If the child doesn’t want to go to school because of the cartoons, we can «conclude an agreement» – «we will watch the favourite cartoon, but only within the specified time». The children need rules and a detailed schedule to feel safe. And if they have a regular daily schedule, it becomes a habit.

But if such morning moodyness happens once and is not usual for the child, my advice would be that it’s better to be late for school than to take the child in tears in time for the first lesson. It’s better to stay at home a bit longer and to work on the problem, discuss such reaction with the child, ask about the child’s feelings. If it is difficult for a child to describe with words, we can make it with colours – «what is the colour of your mood, what was it yesterday, what will it become if you go to school?» Eventually, the child will tell why he/she does not want to go to school. We can even transfer it to some game.

Conflicts are an integral part of development. When resolving conflict situations, the child learns to negotiate and make agreements, to find new ways of solving problems, to see the problem from another point of view and to work within a team.

Information related to this topic:

  1. School conflict resolution service: practical experience.
Peer mediation and the circles of values in schools

  1. Why do conflits arise. Reasons. Stages. Resolution. Consequences. Author: Niki Walker

Short guide for teenagers that gives answers to the most frequently asked questions about conflits

  1. Online course «Counteraction and prevention of bullying in educational establishments»

  1. Online course «Non-discriminatory approach in education»



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