Children must learn how to control anger and manage peer conflicts. Not only are these life-long lessons, but they also teach children how to respect one another and practice decision-making skills in a group dynamic. Use a variety of free conflict resolution activities in any classroom or at home.
Role-playing is an effective way to allow children to see the conflict from the other person’s eyes. They can learn about empathy and how their behavior directly affects others. You can apply this activity to actual conflicts or hypothetical scenarios presented by the teacher or parent. For example, if a child is fighting with his sibling, have each of the siblings trade places for a moment and imagine what it’s like to be the other person. Feel free to allow them to ask questions or even defend their stances. The goal is for them to understand that each person is entitled to his own feelings and that both feelings are valid.
Group Decision Theater
Group decision-making is a fun way for an entire classroom to get involved in the conflict resolution process. Write down several scenarios that result in a conflict and put them in a hat. Have two volunteers draw a scenario and act it out. When the scene is over, invite the other students to identify what the conflict is and offer suggestions on how to avoid or resolve it. The volunteers can then act out the best resolution scenarios.
Teach children about different kinds of behaviors and conflict styles using stuffed animals or pictures. A shark is an overly aggressive and competitive animal, whereas a teddy bear is soft, maybe even too nice or accommodating. A mouse is very shy or meek and likes to run away when scared. You can use other animal personas as well. Have the class share the pros and cons of all the animals and how or why they would react in certain conflict situations.
Be Strong, Be Mean, Give In
Teach children different conflict management styles with this activity. The goal is for children to know when to be strong, when to be mean and when to give in. Come up with conflict scenarios or discuss conflicts in books or movies and have the class identify which characters were assertive, ruthless or submissive. Did these behaviors solve the conflict or make it worse? Have students come up with their own conflicts and examples of strong, mean or giving-in resolutions.
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