When things go wrong and relationships between peers or staff are broken, what do we do? Traditionally in schools, it has been a matter of saying ‘sorry’ or being told off.
What if we were to use these opportunities to teach our children how to resolve conflict, build relationships and increase their emotional literacy ? If we have the container for behaviour and a visual for talking about feelings, then once a child is calm enough, we can engage in a reflective exercise.
I developed a simple form to be used in schools to chart the story of an incident including points for reflection on feelings, checking children’s ability to empathise, other ways of dealing with these feelings and areas of conflict and how to repair relationships through that conflict.
Conflict then becomes an educative experience rather than a punitive one and hopefully over time and perseverance, gives the child new ways of being with feelings, increases empathy and provides them with a toolkit for life. This practice is anti-oppressive, relational, relevant, repetitive, rewarding, rhythmic and respectful – key aspects to re-wiring neural networks (Dr Bruce Perry) and creating the possibility of new ways of being.