Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Peaceful Conflict Resolution

The same day that I was teaching the Kindergarten class that I referred to last Monday, I had one kid come up to me complaining about another. Not surprising. He told me "I want to do a stop sign with Molly."

I had no idea what a stop sign meant, so I just said the classic adult thing to say; "Maybe later." Then I promptly headed in a different direction.

Well, these kids are persistent, and about a half hour later Jacob came up to me again and said "I want to do a stop sign with Molly." So, I pulled a classic substitute teacher move and said okay, then vigilantly watched to see what was going to happen so I could pretend to know what it all meant.

Jacob went over to the whiteboard and pulled down a laminated sign, then looked in my direction. Apparently, I was supposed to come too. I looked at the sign, and it was an acrostic of sorts for the word Stop. It read:

S - Say what you are feeling.
T - Tell what happened.
O - Own your part of it.
P - Peaceful partners.

I read off the first one to them, the s. Right away Jacob said "I feel angry when you don't treat me like a friend should be treated."


Read again what he said. He is saying how he feels, he knows how a friend should treat you, and he knows he's not getting that treatment. AMAZING!

Molly answered, and we moved on to the T - Tell what happened. Each student stated their side of the story.

For the O - Own your part, I was surprised to hear the "victim" Jacob say that he shouldn't have been so angry about it. I had to pinch myself to really believe what was happening. 5 year-olds were communicating - and communicating better than most adults!!

We got to the P - Peaceful Partners section and this proved more difficult. Molly didn't really want to admit she had been treating Jacob poorly, so it was hard for them to find a resolution. It was really dragging along, and finally I said, "I think we'll have to talk about this after lunch." I walked away and began helping other students.

No more than 5 minutes later, Jabob runs over to me, smiling, and says, "We're peaceful partners!" I asked him how they came to that and he said with enthusiasm, "We shook hands!"

That's all it took. They talked about what they were feeling, they worked it out and shook hands. Amazing.

I pray that other schools are doing as intentional job of teaching peaceful conflict resolution. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we all went through STOP when we were frustrated with someone? So many times we let miscommunication rule, and hurt feelings linger. These kids are learning healthy conflict resolution, and finding success at age 5.

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