Conflict is inevitable within communities and schools; however, when conflict turns violent, the public’s awareness and concern for school safety increases.
Conflict is inevitable within communities and schools; however, when conflict turns violent, the public’s awareness and concern for school safety increases. Decades of research demonstrate the significant effect of aggressive behavior on the classroom environment, and teachers view such behavior as seriously undermining the learning potential of students. Research also shows that youth who are prone to violent or aggressive behavior lack important social skills, including impulse control, problem solving, and anger management.
Conflict-resolution programs can help reclaim the peaceful sanctuary of school settings. Research has found that most programs reduce the time educators spend on conflicts, improve school climate and increase effective problem-solving and self-control skills in students. School-based mediation and conflict resolution can be integrated into content areas, improving both comprehension and critical thinking and is proven to have a lasting positive impact on both social-emotional and academic performance.
Conflict resolution is a skill that requires practice. Following are three research-based techniques to consider implementing in your program.
- Peace Path: Provide guided steps to resolving conflicts. Let students post them on a wall or paint them on the playground. Open-ended statements such as, “How would you feel?” or “What happened?” are particularly effective. Encourage students to brainstorm solutions and think about how they would feel in a conflict situation.
- Conflict Managers: Identify and train student leaders to become conflict managers. Student mediators should be available to help students, lead by example and teach conflict-resolution techniques.
- Messages: Children often blame others when conflict arises. Teach students to recognize emotions, both in themselves and others. Encourage using I statements, such as, “I feel sad when you don’t play with me.” Guide children to talk out their conflicts with I messages before discussing possible solutions.
Educators can support students as they solve their own conflicts, building a sense of empowerment and confidence that will serve children in higher education and the workplace.