Last week in this space I discussed the 3 Bs of behavior for elementary kids at MAK: Be Respectful. Be Responsible. Be Safe. This week, our CommUNITY Week content takes us to conflict resolution. How to respond to conflict is something that adults regularly struggle with, and as such it is a major life skill. Our kids are constantly facing this dilemma on the playground when someone steals their ball, in the halls when someone cuts in line, in the classroom when a classmate quietly mocks a mistake, and in the lunchroom when they are excluded from a group. We by no means promote such behavior; these situations go against the ideas of respect, responsibility, and safety. However, let’s be honest: conflicts like these will happen. The question is, how are our kids equipped to respond?
The message we are giving our elementary students is that they have a choice in their response and that if they make the right choice, small problems can be resolved more easily – or at least more responsibly and respectfully. We introduced this idea of choice through Kelso’s choice wheel, which reads “It’s Your Choice! Do You Have a Small Problem? Try Two of Kelso’s Choices!” These choices include going to another game, walking away, apologizing, making a deal, and cooling off.
Not only did we discuss these options in light of a variety of age-appropriate scenarios last week; we also put giant outdoor posters of the choice wheel on the playground. This has been quite useful in various playground conflicts as playground monitors have been able to walk kids who are struggling with conflict over to the posters and dialogue with them about the best choices to make.
Again, we have no false notions that talking about the 3 Bs and Kelso’s Choices will immediately solve all behavior problems at the elementary level. Struggle with behavior is a perpetual human struggle. But the 3 Bs and Kelso’s Choices give us tools to help kids work through these challenges. Please feel free at home to refer to Kelso when discussing conflict resolution, either between your own kids or when discussing situations at school.