The 4 Easy Steps to Resolve Conflict (That Every Teacher and Parent Should Know)

In her book, Preschool Clues, Angela C. Santomero has some great ideas for parents and educators.

“To me, the smartest kids are the ones who can survey a situation, have a point of view, express that point of view, and attempt to make steps to improve the situation.”

This is something we can teach. And when conflict arises, as it will, if you have a solid plan to deal with it, and use it consistently, your child will grow to be one of those smart kids.

“One of my favorite ways to approach conflict, especially when we as parents or caregivers are the ones feeling the conflict and all the emotions that go along with it, is to express ourselves in bite-sized, preschool-appropriate words.”

You’ve probably heard of stating things from a personal perspective by expressing how you feel and why. But do you use this approach?

“The I Message incorporates what the issue is (so it’s explicity clear what eactly is going on), how it makes you feel (for motivation), a simply why (for clarity and learning purposes), and the want (for a clear idea of what to do about it. Not only does this tool give us a simple approach for navigating difficult moments with our preschoolers, but it is an ideal strategy to model for little ones.”

Santomero provides us with a concrete example of a parent being upset when her child didn’t clean up the toys all over the floor.

“For example, let’s say you walk into the living room and there are toys strewn all over the floor. You’ve already asked your child to put them away several times, so naturally, now you are upset. You’re upset that (a) your daughter hasn’t listened to you, and (b) that the living room is still such a mess. What do you do?”

Here’s how to deal with this.

“State the I MESSAGE. You say:

‘When you . . .don’t pick up your toys,
‘I feel . . . upset,
‘because . . . I’ve asked you yo do it a few times.
‘I would like you to . . . pick up your toys.’

I know-the above script sounds so simple and rational, right? Well, that’s exactly why it works. . . it’s kind of magical, because the dialogue is clear, concise, repetitive, emotional, motivating, and action-oriented, all at the same time. When used correctly, preschoolers will clearly understand

‘When you’ = What the problem is
‘I feel’ = How the behavior affected someone she loves
‘Because’ = Why the other person feels this way
‘I would like you to’ = What action we want her to take”

This is something we can do, not only in parenting, but also in our teaching practice.

“Remember: preschoolers [or students of any age] are literal and concrete. They need to know a very specific thing that they can do to fix the problem, and they need to be told. If you incorporate this I Message into your parenting [and teaching] notebook and use it in a calm, natural way every time you have a conflict with your preschooler [or students] , they will learn to know what to expect and flourish in the repetition.”

This is a great tool that I knew about but never really employed. I have taught Kindergarten to Grade 12 and I have noticed some similarities between students of any age. Kindergarten students and Grade 7 or 8 students have a lot in common. This approach will work for them. I am sure of it. We might need to tweak the language a bit, but the message is what is truly important.

Let’s do our best to raise the smartest kids we can.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – inspiration from my classroom to yours