Resolving Friendship Problems in the Classroom
As we have known for sometime, it can be a challenge to focus on our work when we have other emotional problems that we are simultaneously attempting to resolve in our minds. There is only a small number of things we can do at the same time and concentrating on one subject whilst attempting to deal with our emotions in reference to another subject is not something many adults have fathomed, so for a child it would be even more of an undertaking.
It’s important that children are supported in learning how to manage difficulties in friendships in a way that gives them responsibility over creating their own desirable outcome. A school I had visited recently in reference to the coaching and one to one sessions NLP4Kids practitioners deliver around mental well-being, told me that the children are perfectly confident, but many struggle with resilience.
In asking a few more questions I discovered that a child would perhaps fall out with their friend and bad words would be said from one to the other about each other, and they would become stuck at this point.
They would then report the problem to a parent or teacher. It went to a teacher, the teacher would end up getting bogged down in the nitty gritty details of who said what first. If it was reported to a parent, the parent might end up going to the school to make a charge that their child was being bullied. It seemed that neither had the solution when it came to giving the child the right resources to sort out their own disputes.
A Montessori teacher I know once told me how she would say to pupils in her school “Are you bringing me a problem or are you bringing me a solution to a problem? Come back and tell me when you have found a solution to the problem and tell me about that instead.” if a child came to her with ‘tittle-tattle’ about how the other children were treating them.
This attitude from the adults forced the children to get creative and formulate their own solutions to resolve their friendship problems. This was not only more empowering for the children, but it also provided them with the opportunity to build their own resources to deal effectively with similar problems on their own in the future.
In addition, it freed the teachers from getting their time tangled up in petty disputes and reduced the number of parents who came to the school to complain about the bad words someone else’s child had said about their child. The children would report less because they would figure out more on their own.
This alleviated a culture of “I have a problem and someone else needs to fix it.” It put ownership squarely at the feet of the child.
NLP4Kids practitioner focus on educating children around how they can think and react in situations like this with the activities we provide and the questions we ask. Very often, children do have the answers they need already, but as we all do they get tangled up in the moment and forget to think in the most helpful way. By having children create plans about how they would behave and react in difficult situation they can be better prepared to deal with them independently in the future.
By Gemma Bailey