Conflict and failure to deal with it in a timely manner, can lead to violent behaviour. Often the basis for violent behaviour is linked to psycho-social behaviour and the emotional state of the individuals involved. As such, there is a need to develop basic emotional and social skills to help children learn how to deal with difficult situations and how to resolve conflict in a constructive manner.
Here are some work shop ideas to help teachers build these skills among pupils.
1. Developing basic emotional skills (anger management): Many young people get involved in violent behaviour because they do not control their own anger, or find it difficult to do so. In such cases pupils may typically either externalise their anger (get angry at something that has happened at home, such as parental conflict, or at school, for example a teacher who they think has treated them unfairly, and take this anger out on a "safe target"), which is typical in bullying, or internalise it ("bottle it up" inside themselves, resulting in strong feelings of frustration and hatred, or even self-harm and suicidal ideation).
Because of this, it is important to encourage young people to share their feelings and the reasons for their strong emotions with others in other words, to learn as much as they can about anger and how they can deal with it.
Click on the link to download a useful anger management exercise from the Council of Europe handbook on Violence reduction in schools.
2. Developing basic social skills (assertiveness): Assertiveness is an excellent skill for pupils at risk of discrimination, or subject to discrimination, to learn. Still, this is a skill that should be used only in dealing with verbal aggression and bullying. If pupils are being abused physically, they should tell someone and seek assistance.
The main principle of assertiveness as a way of coping can be explained quite easily. The pupils should be told that aggressive people want to see the targets of their abuse display unrest – they want the victim to cry, to get angry, to get frustrated or lose control. So, if you can avoid looking dejected, then the aggressor will not get what he/she is looking for. The aggressor may attempt to cast you down in various ways, but if the victim can manage to not look cast down, then the aggressor will most likely give up and leave, or at least go off to pester someone else. Even if the victim is hurt inside, it is nevertheless a good idea to seem outwardly in control – sending the aggressor the message „you're not getting to me!"
The word „assertiveness" may be explained to young people as taking care of oneself without resorting to aggression or violence. When one is told that one should take care of oneself, that should mean not getting into physical fights with people.
Click on the link to download useful assertive techniques (taken from the Council of Europe handbook on Violence reduction in schools) and share with pupils.
3. Predicting and dealing with conflicts and problems: Conflicts are all around us. They are there even when we think they are not. Any word, any action, can intentionally or unintentionally lead to a conflict situation, depending on the perceptions of things being said or done between children or adults. Having that in mind, predicting conflict situations should be part of our thinking, so that we may deal with the conflicts and problems in a timely manner.
Conflicts can occur even in the most successful behaviors. Nevertheless, in most situations we can use the response techniques for dealing with conflict to contribute to the transformation of the conflict into something positive and productive.
Click on the link to download useful steps to help people in conflict resolution and tips on teaching pupils to resolve conflicts (taken from the Council of Europe training handbook on Violence reduction in schools).
4. Life Skills: There are many activities that act preventively against the occurrence of conflict and violent behaviors. Specifically, the workshops from the Life Skills Curriculum (developed by the Bureau of Education Development with UNICEF support) are examples of such activities that offer help and solutions. They make it possible to correct the behavior without „preaching", through reflection and self-perception in the scenarios and situations presented.
Click on the links to download selected workshops from the Life Skills Curriculum
Age group IV – VI grade (sorry these are not available in English - you can however download the full curricular in Macedonian or Albanian):
- Dealing with violent behaviour
- Mutual support and cooperation
- Worksheets for the workshops from the manual for IV – VI grade
Age group VII – IX grade (sorry these are not available in English - you can however download the full curricular in Macedonian or Albanian):
- Conflict resolution
- Respect for others (non-discrimination)
- Resisting social/peer pressures
- Taking responsibility for one's actions
- Perceiving positive role models
- Worksheets for the workshops from the manual for VII – IX grade
5. Training Activities (Warm Up Games) that can be applied in classroom settings: Warm up activities used in training can encourage people to meet and talk about or present the content of the session in terms of what needs to be done. They can also be used for "energiser activities" when children are losing concentration or need to refocus. Click here to download an activity used in training . You can modify it to use it in the classroom together with pupils.
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