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Peaceful Conflict Resolution Workshop

Kayla C. Leed | Brevard, NC

Recently, parents of students at Mountain Sun Community School participated in a peaceful conflict resolution workshop. Parents acted out scenarios and were given guidance from three MSCS teachers on how to handle conflict peacefully. Beginning with their youngest students, Mountain Sun teaches the language of peaceful conflict resolution utilizing active listening and empathy. Nick Pearl, Primary Class assistant teacher, Brigid Fox, lead Lower Elementary teacher, and Tina Leonard, lead

Primary Class teacher, hosted the event to give parents the chance to learn what their children are practicing every day at school.

Ms. Tina said, “I often believe that, when they become parents, many adults begin to reflect on their own childhoods and typically begin to seek new parenting methods. Naturally, learning how to share and hear the feelings of another person, such as in a peace talk, would be one of the ways new parents might begin to interact differently with their children. The parents may even feel that it becomes a helpful way of communicating with other adults as well.”

Students at Mountain Sun Community School practice peace talks as peaceful conflict resolution, and in each of our classrooms, there is a peace table where children are able to find calm and talk through challenges. A peace talk provides the framework for resolving a variety of conflicts. An example of a peace talk for our youngest students might be, for example, that if Johnny knocks down Bobby’s blocks, Bobby might say, “I felt sad when you knocked my blocks down.”
Johnny’s response would be, “I’m sorry I knocked your blocks down.”Bobby might say, “Please don’t do that again.”
Johnny will follow, “I will work on it.” After this, the two children will usually shake hands or give a hug and say, “friends.”

The peace talk is a simple dialogue that allows the hurt child to express his feelings and encourages the active child to hold himself accountable. Students learn to have empathy through this form of conflict resolution as it teaches them to have positive responses to difficult situations. As children develop, their ability to resolve conflict grows with them. The beginning template of the peace talk broadens to accommodate more complex social situations and emotions.

Also, the structure of the peace talk helps children begin to learn empathy, a key to creating and maintaining healthy relationships. When teaching empathy at a young age, the child grows to be an adult who is able to step in someone else’s shoes and better understand them.

“I believe that conflict is a necessary part of learning and growing in relationships. Empathy offers a path to understanding and learning,” Mr. Nick said, “whereas the need to control encourages resentment and detachment. Peace talks promote this empathy and listening to the conflict cycle and can be a helpful tool even when a child is first learning a language.”

It is inevitable that parents and their children will have disagreements, and while the child is learning how to express herself, it is important for parents to follow suit. This workshop taught MSCS parents how to peacefully respond to conflict with their children.

This workshop gave parents the opportunity to hear what a Peace Talk sounds like to better communicate their feelings with their children and better hear their children’s feelings.

“I feel like many times we fear conflict or have anxiety that we may make matters worse if we try to face a difficult situation with another person,” Ms. Brigid said, “When using a strategy that involves very specific sharing and listening responses, it almost always has a fruitful ending. If we remind ourselves, and those we encounter, that conflict can aid in healthy growth, we are more inclined to share and listen rather than defend or shut down. A peace talk is a clear and simple tool that can help us overcome the hurdle of our discomfort.”

Our primary purpose as a school is to prepare our children to be engaged learners and compassionate, responsible citizens of the world. In any group, it is natural for conflict to arise, and, in many ways, the productive resolution of this conflict is some of the most important work for children and adolescents. As they grow, children expand their natural ability to have healthy, rewarding relationships with other children and adults.

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