Breakthrough ADR wants to give you some PLAYS directly from our conflict resolution playbook to empower kids (and really anyone) to navigate conflict. PLAYS is our acronym featuring 5 strategies to resolve conflict.
P- Positions vs Interests. It is never too early to teach kids the difference between a position and an interest. A position is what someone says they want. “I want a new bike!” An interest is why they want it. “My old bike is too small.” The classic teaching story involves two kids who both reach for the last orange. They go to the nearest adult to help them decide who gets it and what do you think the adult does? [Host answers: Split it in half”]. Splitting it in half is the most common approach to this scenario. When each kid says they want the orange- that’s their position. Well, the adult in my story asked the kids “Why do you need the orange?” One kid said I would like fresh squeezed OJ. The other kid said, I need the peel for my science project. Aha! Light bulb moment! Both kids can have the one orange because they need different parts. Use this story to teach kids to recognize when they are being positional and to help them move to an interest-focused approach.
L – Listen actively. Kids often hear what is said, but they may be listening on autopilot. Active listening requires you to give your full attention and focus with all of your senses to the speaker. Teaching kids to engage in active listening increases the likelihood that the message conveyed will be understood and comprehended. Teach active listening by asking them to repeat what you said and to also describe your nonverbal, perhaps any emotions or feelings that they picked up on.
A- Ask open-ended questions. The answer to any problem that we have lies in the question that we ask. Close-ended questions will prompt a limited amount of options. Open-ended questions have endless potential responses. Teach open-ended questions by asking them to start questions with the following prompts: How? Describe… Tell me more… What else?
Y- Yoga pause. Conflict escalates quickly. Sometimes you have to slow things down and pause to give everyone a chance to think and recalibrate. The yoga pause to me is when you have reached your pose in yoga, you pause and sit in that position for a moment. Teach kids to pause instead of engaging in an escalating pattern of conflict.
S- See another perspective. When people are in conflict, they are only seeing things through a myopic lens. Teach kids to be open-minded to see another perspective. They do not have to agree with the other side, but they should be able to actively listen and appreciate that there may be more than one perspective on the situation.