Hi! I'm Coach Franny, and I empower families with challenging children to come together as problem solving teams through a Mindful-Ish® approach to parenting.
In the dynamic and sometimes unpredictable world of education, teachers and educators often come across challenging behaviors, such as yelling and refusing to follow instructions.
📣 Dealing with these behaviors can sometimes feel like a battle, but it’s important to remember that the children in your classroom are not your opponents.
Learning how to de-escalate conflict and power struggles helps you build a positive classroom culture and facilitate Mindful-Ish® shifts in behavior.
In this article, we’ll explore three de-escalation strategies leading to conflict resolution.
Before we discuss specific strategies, it’s important to understand the concept of de-escalation.
🧘 De-escalation refers to the process of calming down a heightened situation or diffusing tension.
In an educational setting, this skill is invaluable for classroom management, resolving conflict, and fostering healthy relationships between students and educators.
When approaching the topic of conflict resolution in the classroom, it’s important to remember that conflict is a natural part of social interactions, even among young children.
Examples of conflict in the classroom can include:
It’s important to note that while conflict in the classroom is natural, it still must be addressed.
It’s essential that teachers and educators learn conflict resolution strategies to build a better classroom environment.
You need to use de-escalation strategies to manage a conflict that has already developed. To foster a more proactive approach, it’s important to start with prioritizing crisis prevention in your classroom.
One effective strategy for becoming proactive is to complete an Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP). The ALSUP is a tool developed by Dr. Ross Greene as part of the Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach.
The ALSUP helps caregivers and educators identify a child’s lagging skills and unsolved problems (expectations they do not meet reliably).
⚠️ Instead of focusing on problematic behavior, CPS encourages adults to identify the underlying problems causing concerning behaviors in kids and work collaboratively with them to address those problems proactively.
For example, imagine you have a student in your classroom – let’s call him Julian – who frequently refuses to participate in group activities and becomes agitated when asked to complete assignments.
Using the ALSUP, you can take the following steps to improve crisis prevention in your classroom.
Rather than attaching labels such as attention-seeking, manipulative, or lazy to Julian’s challenges, shift your lens and recognize his lagging skills.
Recognizing lagging skills is not an excuse for Julian’s behavior but a means to gain a more effective and actionable perspective. It helps you constructively approach the challenging behavior.
An unsolved problem arises when a child struggles to meet certain expectations. By listing out Julian’s unsolved problems, it becomes evident that his difficulties are not unexpected.
Moreover, this allows you to prioritize which unsolved problems to address, enabling you and Julian to focus energy and attention on specific areas rather than spreading yourselves too thin.
Given that you cannot tackle and resolve all of Julian’s unsolved problems at once, it’s essential to implement Plan C for the ongoing challenges. In CPS, Plan C means temporarily removing certain expectations.
It’s important to note that this approach is not about surrendering or giving in. Instead, it’s a strategic prioritization of unsolved problems.
Teachers may feel apprehensive about implementing Plan C, fearing that the child will exploit the situation. However, my personal experience aligns with the research, which shows that Plan C actually stabilizes the child and strengthens your relationship.
CPS involves a structured approach to problem-solving called the Plan B Conversation. It consists of three essential parts.
The first part is understanding the child’s concerns. The second is listening to the teacher’s concerns. Finally, the third part is inviting the child (Julian, in this case) to help create practical and mutually beneficial solutions, addressing both parties’ concerns.
If the solutions implemented do not yield the desired results, it’s important to avoid assigning blame or consequences. If the solution you try doesn’t work, it simply shows that the chosen solution might not have been as practical or mutually satisfying as you initially thought.
In this case, you and Julian would reconvene at the problem-solving table. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the ALSUP is an ongoing and evolving document. Unsolved problems may naturally resolve themselves, while new ones may also emerge.
The core goal of CPS and the ALSUP is to shift from reactive responses to working proactively and collaboratively with the student.
Instead of attempting to solve the problem for the student, focus on working together to find effective solutions. Blindly trying to solve the problem on their behalf often proves ineffective.
Even with strong crisis prevention strategies, conflict in the classroom is often inevitable.
💭When encountering a difficult situation, employ active calming strategies and coach yourself to prevent your emotions from clouding your judgment.
Children often look to their teachers as role models for behavior. When a teacher models active calming strategies, it sends a message to students that conflict can be addressed without escalating into a terrible situation.
Likewise, by calmly acknowledging the children’s feelings, you can guide them in the right direction. For example, you can say something like, “You both seem upset. Something must have happened. We are going to calm ourselves, and then I will help you figure this out.”
Engaging your students in conflict resolution games for kids can be an effective way to teach them valuable skills in a fun and interactive manner.
Here are a few examples of the activities that you can do in your classroom:
Children learn through play, so conflict-resolution activities can help them develop better emotional regulation and problem-solving skills.
De-escalation is an essential skill that can transform the classroom into a positive and productive learning environment.
Focusing on crisis prevention, remaining calm when challenging behaviors arise, and helping children learn how to regulate their emotions through play can help you navigate difficult situations in a Mindful-Ish® way.
If you’re an educator who wants to promote positive change, Mindful-Ish® and Coach Franny offer free and paid workshops, ranging from parent night talks to full professional development days for educators. Inquire now!