Unresolved conflict amongst kids creates tension within the group dynamics and can play out in emotional/ physical violence and cause extremely disruptive behavior. Having some inspiring tools on how to resolve conflict in a nonviolent way can be a complete game changer.
Here some hands on tools:
First of all – check in with the involved kids if they are open for a facilitated heart sharing.
I ask them to sit in front of each other with eyes closed. I let them breathe deeply into the belly, let them roll down their shoulders, ask them to relax their face. Then I invite them for an eye gazing exercise. I usually start with 30sec. I ask them to choose either the right or the left eye of the kid in front and to hold the gaze for the given time frame. Their task is to look without interruption (no looking away, no talking etc) into each other’s eyes. Then I’ll ask them what came up in their body while holding eye contact.
Especially, when there is a lot of anger involved the eye contact is extremely challenging at the beginning. At the same time it’s a great opening to connect from the heart and to feel the other one in a ‘non- story’ space. Some kids start giggling or have tears. I tell them to embrace whatever emotion comes up as all of the above mentioned reactions are a way to release tension in the body.
Then each kid gets 2 min uninterrupted speaking time to express what is moving inside of them. I support them to use non violent communication by reminding them to make it about themselves and their emotions and not about the other. We are not here to point the finger but to openly express how we feel and to practise vulnerability.
The more we show ourselves and get to the essence of the story the more we will be seen for who we are and receive compassion. Like an onion we peel off layer by layer, story after story until we see what is lying underneath the narrative. Because usually it is not about the broken cookie or the paper airplane. The story is just the cover. The interesting part lies underneath. And that’s where we are trying to get together.
We repeat the 2min heart sharing as many rounds as we feel we need in order to get to a sense of mutual understanding.
At the end I let them repeat the eye gazing exercise for 1 entire minute.
After that I ask them to close their eyes and to feel into their body to see if sth has moved inside of them. Whether they feel more light, less angry, relieved etc. They are alway amazed when they realize how much has changed in comparison to before and after.
So far, the kids have surprised me positively with their openness, their ability to show vulnerability and their willingness to self-reflect and reconcile.
Whenever we do some conflict resolution work there are some kids that are curiously observing the process. They learn a lot from embodiment and the communal work being done.