“How Should I Respond to Friendship Drama and Peer Conflict in my Classroom?”
Style 2: I’ll tell you how to fix it.
Style 3: I’ll help you to figure it out for yourself.
Which style do you most often use?
Style 1 and 2 are often used by teachers, parents, friends and people in leadership positions (so, most people). These styles are time efficient, help to restore the peace, they help people to feel heard and helped, but they are short-term fixes only. They can create dependent relationships, fail to teach individuals how to resolve their own issues, and as such, disempower and do not help to foster resilience. Also, this approach inevitably leaves the helper feeling annoyed and frustrated because it’s just a matter of time before it happens all over again.
Style 3 considers real life situations as teaching opportunities, and these are perfect moments to teach via inquiry. Rather than giving students answers to their social problems, focus on asking facilitating questions.
‘What have you tried in the past and how did that work out?’
‘What are your options?’
‘What else could you try?’
‘What could you do so that you are operating within the Strength Triangle?’
‘What are the possible consequences for each of those options?’
‘Based on the ideas that you’ve come up with, what are you going to try next?’
This facilitator model empowers students; learning how to sequence events, articulate a problem, evaluate options, and make informed decisions for themselves. Essentially, this facilitating approach teaches children how to work through problems.
Finally, this approach can help to foster resilience with the idea that ‘no matter what, THERE ARE ALWAYS OPTIONS’. Clinical studies confirm that individuals who operate from this framework have heightened levels of resilience against mental health issues such as depression.
1. Ask students to describe what happened.
2. Help students to brainstorm possible options because ‘no matter what happens, there are always options’.
3. Help students to consider the consequences to those options.
4. Ask students what they have decided to try next.
NOTE: The approach outlined above is consistent with the problem solving approach that is explicitly taught to the students during the ‘I Notice my Feelings’ and ‘I am Caring’ sessions of The Friendship Saver.
You can also refer to the Strategies Poster to support this conversation. This will be introduced later in the program.