Students are often stumped when it comes to finding a resolution to a conflict beyond saying “I’m sorry.” To get over this hump, encourage students to take two additional steps: Ask creative questions to understand the other person’s needs, and make a written commitment to change.
One of the goals of teaching social and emotional learning skills to children is to prepare them to peacefully and independently resolve their own conflicts. Once our students master some basic SEL skills, they have a toolbox of strategies they can use to solve their problems. They’ve learned that calming down is helpful, they know they need to listen intently and paraphrase one another’s point of view, and they may use an “I Message” to express their feelings.
1. SEL Basics
- Use deep breathing or self-talk to calm down.
- Agree to listen to one another’s point of view and feelings.
- Agree to paraphrase one another’s point of view and feelings.
2. Creative Questioning
- Students ask one another, “What do you need from me in order to feel safe, feel comfortable, and move on?” Each student listens closely and paraphrases what they hear.
- Students use self-talk to ask themselves, “Can I give this person what they need from me?”
If the answer is “yes,” students move on to Making Commitments. If the answer is “no,” students share why they cannot give the other person what they need, and suggest something else that they could do to make things better.
3. Making Commitments
- Students decide what commitment to change they can make.
- Students write their commitments in a Commitments to Change Book.
- Students and teachers refer to the Commitments to Change Book as a reminder when the same problems seem to resurface.