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Conflict Resolution for Children February 9, 2011

Posted by ToYourHealth in Public Health.
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Elementary Students Manage Each Other’s Conflicts

Conflict Management for Children

Important lessons help children deal with peer conflict, and can build a solid foundation for coping throughout life, resulting in greater happiness.

Today’s child is often rife with pressures, increased responsibility, and over-scheduling. Coupled with the normal growing-up issues, even kids under the age of 10 can face their unfair share of conflict with peers, parents, and teachers. Some elementary school counselors see a growing need for conflict resolution and mediation skills, and are effectively teaching it.

The Benefits of Conflict Management are Multi-Layered

The Second Step program from the Committee of Children, a non-profit organization that develops and publishes programs and curricula about social skills and related issues for children, uses the following five steps for social problem solving:

identify the problem and listen to each side without judgement or interruptions

brainstorm possible solutions

evaluate each solution

select, plan, and try the solution

evaluate whether the solution worked and switch to another solution if needed

When children studying mediation have demonstrated proficiency in these steps, a number of important factors are at work. Patience, understanding, communication, and problem solving skills not only mitigate the current “crisis,” but take root in students who are then better at coping throughout life.

Some elementary schools prepare fourth and fifth graders as peer mediators, who, upon completion of the series, don special “Conflict Mediator” badges during recess and are the go-to people before involving an adult. Working out problems this way bolsters the confidence of the mediators while practicing skills, helps the younger students feel their cause is worthy enough to be heard by students who normally ignore them, and relieves recess teachers of dealing with time-consuming, usually petty issues.

Elementary age is the perfect time to start learning coping tools. Identifying feelings at an early age takes practice. As does knowing how to respond instead of react. By the tween or teen years, kids are better able to overcome challenges if they have had the opportunity to develop these skills. The skills are learned behaviors. Children are often relieved when they realize that how they choose to handle difficult situations is just that – a choice.

Cope and be Happy

Coping skills can summarily result in better health and greater happiness. Adults with interpersonal or professional conflicts often become depressed, color their world in that dark hue, and may (hopefully) seek therapy. But the coping skills that could have been learned as a child can pinpoint troubles. Now they are viewed as singular experiences rather than overall gloom, they are much easier to handle.

Successful coping can boost confidence and eventually extend to a rosier outlook altogether. A series of small successes sets a foundation for tackling larger issues. If begun at an early age, most people will have a strong set of tools by adulthood, in turn leading to less stress and a happier mentality.

A Young Generation of Peacemakers

Kids have a lot on their plates these days. Providing them with conflict management strategies to find peaceful solutions is a lasting tool for empowerment, relationship building, and health.

Source: Committee for Children Website. Second Step Program.

First published 2/1/2010 on www.Suite101.com

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