In a perfect world, students would get along peacefully all day, every day. However, children have different personalities that may clash from time to time and at times that will inevitlby lead to classroom conflict. It can be one of the most difficult aspects of classroom management but we've put together a guide on the benifets of teaching it, and a few simple strateiges you can implement.
Conflicts Are Inevitable
Classrooms are always buzzing with activity. Unfortunately, when students play and work together, it’s common for conflicts to arise. As a result, teachers often spend a great deal of time helping children resolve their minor tiffs.
However, providing students with conflict resolution strategies will give them the tools to solve problems independently with minimal assistance from the teacher.
Benefits of Teaching Conflict Resolution
Letting children solve problems independently can be time-consuming, and it can be tempting to save time by intervening. However, there are several reasons to give students space to solve their problems on their own, particulary when it comes to classroom conflict.
Students Gain Independence
When students can resolve their problems, they become more independent. In addition, children who engage in conflict resolution are more likely to take risks and try new things.
It Boosts Confidence
Solving problems help students feel capable. As a result, they grow more confident in their skills and abilities, which results in higher self-esteem and goal achievement.
It Helps Build Relationships
Students learn to collaborate and compromise through conflict resolution. Therefore, they build stronger connections and friendships.
It Improves Communication
Students develop listening and speaking skills when they practice conflict resolution. They also learn how to compromise and negotiate.
Results in Fewer Interruptions
When teachers spend less time assisting students with problem-solving, they can devote more time to content, learning engagements, and meaningful interactions.
Strategies to Try In Your Classroom
When stressed or irritated students struggle to resolve an issue, have them close their eyes and imagine a stoplight. Tell them to take deep breaths and imagine the stoplight turning from red to yellow, and finally, to green.
This strategy encourages children to pause before speaking. They can imagine the stoplight for as long as they need before reacting to the situation. When students are calm, they can approach the problem with less emotion and act more rationally.
Encourage Talking About Emotions
When children cannot express themselves, they can have difficulty solving problems. Talking about feelings frequently in the classroom helps students build an emotional vocabulary. Then, when conflicts arise, students will have adequate words to express their emotions and communicate their ideas.
Empathy is a powerful tool in conflict management. Therefore, modeling empathy is vital in the classroom because students cannot emulate behavior that they have not seen.
Throughout the day, take notice of your students’ emotions. Validate their feelings and encourage them to talk about them. Take emotions into account and adjust expectations accordingly.
For example, let’s say that you invite two students to a small group table. One student gets upset because the other sat in the same chair they wanted. The student may not be willing to sit in another chair, so instead of forcing them to join, you can allow them to cool off and participate in the activity when they are calm.
Brainstorm Possible Solutions
Have a classroom discussion and invite students to share possible solutions to common problems that may arise in the classroom.
Some possibilities could include:
Take a break.
Flip a coin or play a game of rock, paper, scissors.
Talk it out.
You can create an anchor chart with the class solutions or use one of the following methods.
Create a Jar of Problem-Solving Sticks
Write the different solutions on popsicle sticks and put them in a jar. When students struggle with resolving conflict, prompt them to select a resolution from the jar. Whatever is written on the stick must be followed.
As imple, self guided solution to help resolve conflict is the problem-solving wheel. Divide a circle into different sections. Write the classroom solutions in each area. Create a spinnable wheel or place a spinner at the center of the circle. When a disagreement arises, have the children spin the wheel. The solution it lands on must be followed.
Cool Down Corner
Sometimes one of the best approaches to conflict management is just letting children remove themselves from a conflict to think clearly. Designate an area of the classroom to be the Calm Down Corner. Place items in this area that will help your students relax.
Some examples of possible items are:
Bubble wrap (for popping)
Glitter bottles: (Fill a clear water bottle with glitter and either corn syrup or baby oil. Students can shake the bottle when they’re angry and watch the glitter settle to calm themselves down.)
Give Your Students Tools to Succeed
When students have ample opportunities to practice independent conflict resolution and conflict management, they become more confident and communicative. As a result, they may be more likely to be empathetic, take risks, and achieve goals.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that will work in every classroom, so you may have to try a few before you see any results. However, taking the time to find a strategy that works for your students is a worthwhile investment.