Fostering Peace Building Strategies in Youth

The National Crime Prevention Council offers a variety of lesson plans for students based on grade level. I found one that is tailored to teach children in kindergarten and first grade the basic concept of conflict and the benefits of settling them justly and quickly. The full activity can be found here: Students are asked to express how they would feel when a conflict is not solved fairly and to brainstorm ways that they can do so in response to a variety of scenarios. The instructor then introduces resolution methods and examples that accommodate the age group, such as chance, taking turns, apologizing, and sharing. The children are asked to brainstorm their own examples of conflict, which they practice solving with the aforementioned methods.

I believe this lesson plan can be used to teach children peace building strategies at any elementary school level. The examples of the resolution methods can be altered according to the age group so they can better relate to the scenario. Some children may remain vulnerable to bullying and violent approaches to conflict after first grade; therefore, reinforcing these essential methods can make a significant difference in a child’s life.

How this resource can be used to teach children conflict resolution

This lesson plan teaches fundamental character and behavior, such as fairness, kindness, and sharing as conflict resolution strategies and can be conducted in a normal classroom setting. Educators may thus find this exercise especially relevant when they are focusing on the Six Pillars of Character in their regular lesson plans. No special materials are needed for this activity and at least 30 minutes should be dedicated to it.

This peace building activity pertains to the skill building and nurturing emotional intelligence pedagogies for conflict analysis and resolution, which are the ultimate goals of this exercise. Skill building is established when students utilize nonviolent approaches to conflict, such as listening, recognizing and accommodating each individual’s needs, and negotiating a resolution based on the identified needs. Strengthening these skills at a young age will help students be effective in conflict prevention and resolution as adults, allowing them to identify a problem as it escalates and applying their skills to develop methods to subdue it.

By asking students to identify how they feel during a conflict that produces an unfair outcome, they become more emotionally intelligent. Children who can express their feelings and understand why they feel upset or content during a conflict may find it easier to be aware of why others are feeling the way they are and how they can better accommodate each aspiration, including their own, during problem solving. Students with a firm emotional intelligence may also be able to better control negative feelings that provoke violence. This serves as a gateway for them to integrate their problem solving skills into the situation.

Through this activity, students will ultimately learn to approach a situation with a positive attitude and with the intention of resolving the conflict non-violently. In addition, children who are introduced to peace learning strategies may be less inclined to engage in bullying and more likely to use peaceful tactics if a conflict should arise. Two stakeholders whom may be able to effectively apply this activity into their lesson plans are kindergarten and first grade teachers at a local elementary school and my former kindergarten teacher who now serves as a guidance counselor. I will reach out to each to raise awareness about the conflict resolution tactics that their students can benefit from in this lesson.

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