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Crucial Conflict Resolution Strategies

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw

How can educators stop dreading conflicts among preschoolers, and instead begin to see them as great opportunities to help children develop conflict resolution skills they can use the rest of their lives? That’s one of the questions addressed in the newest Exchange ReflectionsConflict Resolution Strategies with Preschoolers.”

In an online post, Rutgers Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution stated that “children find themselves in precarious situations that often lead to escalated conflict with their peers…If left unchecked, these same behavioral patterns will transfer over into the teenage years…The inability to resolve conflict without resorting to violence is symptomatic of youth’s inability to handle confrontation. Teaching youth how to resolve conflict in a peaceful way can help reduce incidents of violence and criminal mischief.” So, the earlier children learn conflict resolution skills, the better.

In the article by Cheryl Polk and Kenneth Sherman that provides the foundation for the new Exchange Reflectionsthe authors write:

“Conflict resolution specialist Betsy Evans has often said, ‘Children don’t misbehave—they make mistakes.’ In preschool classrooms, mistakes abound, often because children are not equipped to express their needs in socially acceptable ways. The conflicts that inevitably arise in a preschool classroom, though, are best seen as opportunities for children to experience social-emotional growth with the help of competent adults. To that end, Evans, author of several conflict resolution books, including You Can’t Come to My Birthday Party! and You’re Not My Friend Anymore!, developed a successful six-step problem-solving process to help children resolve conflicts on their own. The goal for adults in the six-step process is to encourage children to resolve disputes by discussing how the conflict occurred and expressing their feelings in a safe environment.”

This Reflections would be great for group discussion or individual reflection. It’s an important topic for all early education practitioners to take seriously.

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