Teaching conflict resolution in the classroom is a must! Conflict mediation can be peaceful and constructive when students know the right steps to take.
How to Teach Conflict Resolution in the Classroom
Model Positive Social-Emotional Skills
Don’t underestimate the power of your example!
Research shows that a teacher’s social-emotional skills greatly impact the conflict mediation abilities of their students (Valente & Afonso Lourenco, 2020).
Teachers who model open communication, responsibility, and inclusiveness in the classroom are more likely to have success with this goal.
Use 3 Simple Strategies
Teach your students 3 simple strategies for managing conflicts peacefully with each other.
- Communicate using “I Statements”
- Think about Positive Solutions
- Be Respectful
It’s common for anyone (especially young kids!) to respond defensively when being blamed. Teach students how to change the way they communicate in conflicts by using “I statements” instead of YOU messages.
Example: I felt hurt when you said my picture was ugly because I worked really hard on it.
Good “I statements” help students take responsibility for their own feelings and still effectively talk about problems.
Teach students to collaborate and come up with a few positive solutions to their problems. Consider what is fair for both parties of the argument.
Tangible resources like mini-whiteboards or sticky notes might be helpful for students to visualize this process.
Sometimes, solutions are hard to figure out or don’t fully meet the wishes of both sides. It’s important to be respectful of each other even when you don’t agree.
Use kind words and act responsibly in order to give others the respect they deserve.
You’re a busy teacher. You don’t have time to always come up with brand new resources, and there’s really no need to recreate the wheel!
Grab my Keys to Resolving Conflict resource and confidently teach your older elementary students the 6 keys to resolving conflicts peacefully.
Students will practice analytical and social skills while they listen to different conflicts and determine which strategy to use. This is also a great option to work through with individual students or small groups who struggle to make and keep friends.
Conflict resolution is a topic worth revisiting all year long, so print these keys in color and hang them somewhere easy to see in your classroom for quick (and frequent!) visual reference!
The Conflict Resolution Superheroes workbook is another favorite you can find in my TPT store.
The bright colors and superhero theme are perfect for all elementary aged students!
Students will improve conflict mediation skills and positive communication skills with this resource. They will also practice making good choices and using “I Statements” and learn the rules for Fighting Fair.
It’s so easy to differentiate this activity! Split this one workbook into two (or more) different lessons based on your student’s individual needs.
Both of these resources are available as print-and-go and include a digital version for use with Google Slides and Google Classroom for digital learning.
Use Books & Videos
Books are a simple and effective way to teach conflict resolution in the classroom. Here are a few of my favorites to consider adding to your teaching:
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This book is such a great way to open up a discussion about using I messages. Meet Gabby, the little girl in the story who teaches us all about using I statements and how to be a problem solver. She encounters common kid conflict situations like a toy being taken from her, being called a mean name, and someone cutting in front of her in line. She discovers the more she uses her “I statement” the more her confidence grows and the more comfortable she is telling other kids how she feels.
"The Fort" by Laura Perdew is a heartwarming tale of adventure and friendship that will captivate and inspire readers of all ages. This delightful story follows the journey of a group of young friends as they embark on a summer adventure to build a fort in the woods. Along the way, they face challenges and learn important life lessons about teamwork, perseverance, and the power of friendship.
Teaching conflict resolution skills in the classroom will help a child develop strong social-emotional skills for life!
Valente, S., & Afonso Lourenco, A. (2020, February 25). Conflict in the Classroom: How Teachers’ Emotional Intelligence Influences Conflict Management. Frontiers in Education. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2020.00005/full
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