How to Teach Conflict Resolution in Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade
March 11, 2022
Do your students get in arguments in your classroom?! Mine too! It is completely normal for students to get in conflicts with their peers, but we, as teachers, need to teach students how to resolve these conflicts. In today’s post, I am going to over some of the steps I take to teach my students how to solve a problem as well as my favorite picture books to use for this topic.
Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know you can watch all these tips in video format, by clicking on my YouTube video below:
If you want to read this information, just keep scrolling!
A few weeks ago, I made a video all about incorporating play in the classroom. One of the benefits of incorporating some unstructured playtime in your classroom is that it allows some freedom for students to get into real-life conflicts. Now that might sound like a benefit at first… but when students get into arguments or a conflict, they can learn how to navigate through it. Humans get into arguments all the time and we need to give our students tools to solve their conflicts.
There are many different ways you can teach students how to resolve a conflict, but I usually walk my students through the following steps:
The first step is an optional one, but I like to let my students know that sometimes if we are feeling a bit too angry, we might say things we don’t mean or have trouble coming up with a solution. So sometimes, the first thing we need to do is take some time to cool off!
Next, we must identify how we are feeling and why we are feeling that way. When we have done that we can express those emotions to the other person and also be sure we are listening to their feelings as well. Often our young students are only focused on their own feelings (this is completely normal!), so it’s important for them to remember there is another party involved who also may have hurt feelings.
Next, we can brainstorm solutions. This will be different based on what type of problem students are having, but we should be able to come up with some ways to solve the problem! Then, students can choose one of the solutions, forgive each other, and try to move on!
These are the explicit steps I usually take when teaching my students about how to resolve a conflict with their peers. You will have to do this with your students for a while, but the more they practice these steps, the better they become at solving small problems on their own with an adult intervening.
PICTURE BOOKS FOR RESOLVING CONFLICT:
I also love using picture books to teach this topic because it allows students to see other conflicts get resolved without their own emotions taking over. They can see characters go through solving conflicts and come up with ways to solve them.
Here are some of my favorites:
I love this book because it is about a little boy who has found a fort in the forest and turned it into a castle! He likes to play pretend there. One day, he notices that his fort is turned into a pirate ship. We find that another girl is using that fort to play pretend on her own time and both parties get a bit territorial over this fort.
The end of having a confrontation over the use of the fort and decide to come up with an idea that they both like – a spaceship! In this story, the children come up with a compromise and they can both enjoy the fort together instead of fighting over it. You can find this book here: The Fort by Laura Perdew
This next book is an all-time favorite of mine! This story focuses on what to do when you have a problem and touches on worrying and anxiety. It shares how our problems can get bigger and bigger if we don’t face them. This book illustrates how to make a plan, sit down, and confront our problems, even if it is scary!
At the end of the book, it says, “Every problem has an opportunity for something good. You just have to look for it.”
I love this book for resolving conflicts because some of your students will hold their problems with a peer inside of them and not want to face them, causing them to fester. This book acknowledges the fear of confronting a friend and allows them to see how they can work through that. You can find this book here: What Do You Do with a Problem? by Kobi Yamada
This next book by Rachel Bright is another one I love! I love all of Rachel Bright’s rhyming books – they are great for social-emotional skills! Not only is this book perfect for teaching about resolving conflict, but her books use great vocabulary and rhythm. There are so many skills you can use with this book.
This story is about Bruce and Cyril, two squirrels who fight over the last pinecone they find before winter. Throughout their squabbling, they end up losing the pinecone to a bird and they both lose out. In the end, they end up giggling at the way they behaved and realized they could’ve just shared the pinecone in the first place. This is a great example because sharing is one of the most common solutions we come up with in K-2 since there can be a lot of arguments over a highly-coveted toy, book, game, etc. You can grab this book here: The Squirrels Who Squabbled by Rachel Bright
Last but not least, this book is another great one for teaching about conflict resolution. In this story, a little cat named Lucy knows how to do everything and her friends also think she knows how to do everything. Until Toshi arrives. Toshi does things differently and Lucy doesn’t think the way Toshi does things is the “right” way. By the end of the story, Lucy realizes not everyone has to do things her way and that other ways can be great as well.
Now, why do I love this book for teaching about conflict resolution? Well, many of the conflicts that arise in K-2 classrooms can stem from a student thinking things have to get done their way. This book proactively shows students that we can learn many new things from one another by watching them do things differently than us! It reminds us to be open and flexible to all different ideas and solutions to problems. You can find this book here: That’s NOT How You Do It by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar
So there are some of my favorite tips and books to read when teaching students about conflict resolution. Do you have other books you love for this topic?! Leave them in the comments below!
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