The Peace Process for Conflict Resolution & Freebie


We have a lovely school counselor this year who came to visit each of our classrooms and explain a common "Peace Process" for conflict resolution. I loved this for so many reasons and can't wait to share it with you!

For one, common language across all grades is invaluable, especially when kids experience conflict at recess, in the lunch room, or even in the hallway when they are away from their classroom teacher and intermixed with other grades.

Also, the fact that this process is broken down into such simple and manageable parts gives kids the confidence to go through it themselves, complete with sentence starters and all.

I want to share this Peace Process with you in case you are looking for a way to help manage conflict and empower your students to problem-solve with one another. Feel free to download the freebie to share with others in your school, or even send home to parents... this can work with anyone in any situation!


Step 1: Breathe

The first step is the most important: make sure your body is calm enough to engage in the process of making peace. In the heat of the moment, the "fight or flight" response is in high gear, anger may be driving the show, and there is no way the rest of the process can be successful. By stopping to breathe, everyone can get back into a more calm state.

How you breathe is just as important. Start by "smelling a flower" by breathing in through your nose and counting to three slowly. Then, hold for one count, and exhale our your mouth as if you're "blowing out a candle" for four counts. Practice this with your students and see how it changes the feel in the classroom. Some may be silly for the first breath or two, but after practicing for several breaths, the whole tone of the class will be calmer and more subdued. It's a good practice to keep on hand for other times during the day, too!

Remind kids to take as many breaths as they need. This process can't be rushed, so even if they need some time alone to compose themselves, that's a-okay. I would still encourage a few common breaths together at the start of the process to be sure there's lots of fresh oxygen in the brain!

Step 2: "I" Statements

This is the first back-and-forth conversation that takes place. The person who feels harmed begins with a statement about how they felt. The framework of: "I feel ____ because ____" always gives kids a good place to start. During this time, the other person must stay silent and practice listening. This is important, because the second part of this step is to repeat what that person said.

When the first person is done with their "I" Statement, the second person repeats what they heard, including all of the important parts, not just generalities. "I heard you say you felt ___ because ___" is a perfect launching point.

At the end of their retell, they need to ask if they got it right. Person 1 needs to feel confident enough to say no, if needed, and retell the parts that were left out. This may need to happen a few times, especially at the beginning. The inclusion of "I heard you say..." is also crucial because it reinforces the idea that this is a listening exercise, not just an airing of grievances.

Step 3: Repairing the Harm

We want to encourage kids repair the harm, and sometimes "sorry" is enough. Other times, they may need an apology and an additional follow-up about what will happen if this occurs again. There may be something that they need or can do for one another, like get an ice pack or take turns with the item in question. There are other alternatives, too, and usually two or three actions are needed to repair the harm that was done. The important part is to make sure they are reasonable, and that both are agreeable to the ideas. Person 1 should feel that the harm is indeed repaired, or on the way to being repaired as best as possible.

Step 4: Moving Forward

While a physical touch may not always be appropriate, it is often a useful and effective starting point for moving forward. A handshake, high five, or fist bump can be powerful "wrap up" gestures that solidify the discussion and resolutions discussed. The important part, like the rest of the steps, is that both parties agree on the common gesture. Even a thumbs-up or peace sign can work.

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Always be sure to offer your presence and guidance, especially at at the beginning, as kids are working on practicing and internalizing these steps. After a while, you will not need to be as present, although you should always need to be available to help. Some conflicts go beyond the Peace Process and will need additional intervention by you or others to be truly effective and safe. However, I think you will find that this can be an excellent tool for navigating issues throughout the day.

* As you introduce this to your classroom, have kids role-play through the Peace Process with common conflicts and/or issues that you have been hearing about. Extend the areas beyond the classroom and onto the playground, bus, neighborhood, and lunchroom. This activity will also get them more familiar with the steps and language in real-life scenarios.

* An even more powerful way of incorporating this schoolwide is to have older student be "Peace Aides" and help younger students work through the process. How powerful for all parties involved!


If you're interested in the freebie, click HERE to find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Have you used a process like this at your school? Do you have additional steps or any feedback? Please leave a comment and share your experiences!

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Thank you so much for your comments!
~Stephanie

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