You've seen kids on the playground. One moment it's everyone playing with the ball nicely, then in a flash the game escalates to someone being aggressive, or not being fair, or saying something "not nice."
The common response is for an adult to halt the action verbally or physically, pull kids aside, ask about the problem, and try to establish meaningful communication through a mix of instruction, listening, inquiry, compromise, then potentially a verbal apology.
While this is a widely accepted progression for conflict resolution, it's still not getting the problem at the root. While it's necessary to understand the cause of the conflict through communication with the children involved, solving the problem goes deeper.
The conflict came from a negative feeling within one child, who then expressed it verbally or physically, then the negative energy expressed, interacted, reacted inside another child. What we say to try and solve the problem is on the surface thinking level. What we observe going on inside of us is the truth, and when we observe the problem at its root, and face and erase, we can stop it in its tracks--for good.
Every time a face it and erase it tool is used, awareness develops, insight develops, and our Higher Consciousness (our innate goodness and awareness, and the silence behind all our thoughts) is strengthened, changing us on a deep inner level.
Here's how HMHB does conflict resolution-- whether it be on a playground, between a teacher and student, within families, or in personal relationships:
1. Someone expresses a negative feeling verbally, physically, or in attitude.
2. Someone else reacts internally or externally to the negative stimulus.
3. Both parties need to stop, or have someone prompt them to stop speaking and moving entirely (ideally done right on the spot, or if safety is a concern then walk to a safe, quiet area to continue.) You can simply say "freeze."
4. If either party is too "emotional", " riled up", or not able to calm down in this moment, then taking deep breaths, breath awareness breaths, or scanning the body from head to toe with your attention is helpful until more control over the body is achieved. (Scanning the body is simply placing awareness on one part of the body at a time.) If kids are not capable of this, try making tight open and close fists 10 times with their hands at their sides. If they still cannot calm down, have them hold the index finger of the left hand with the right hand for 1-2 minutes.
5. Then both parties must independently place attention inside on "inner space" to "feel the feeling" which means feeling the energy inside your body that your emotion is generating (typically felt in the space between the neck and lower belly.) Then each party needs to use any or all of our face it and erase it tools: The three questions, SLT®, finger tapping, or stop, drop, chop. (Feeling the feeling is a very specific exercise, goes beyond "checking in" with yourself, and is the first step before using any face it & erase it tools.) This can take a bit of time, a few minutes sometimes, depending on "how big" the feeling is.)
A child will know the feeling is really gone by "checking homework" or remembering the feeling again, and seeing if any is left inside. If inner space is silent, and a feeling of peace or calm has taken the place of the negative emotion, then the feeling is gone!
6. If either party is unable to, or refuses to calm down or feel the feeling, then a constructive and reflective "time out" or "cool down" is helpful. Quiet time is only good if a constructive measure is taken, (see our reflection sentences at the bottom of this page for some constructive measure, or the full blog called HOW TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL HMHB STRUCTURE).
A helpful conversation can be had in "time out" or "cool down" if it helps to open up greater insight into oneself by asking questions like:
"Do you know what feeling you had when Johnny did xyz? "
"Do you notice how your action made Johnny feel (look at his face and body to see.)"
"What do you think you could have done/what better choice could you have made instead of doing what you did?"
"Do you know I'm here to help you through this? I am not angry at you, I just want to make sure we learn a lesson from this experience. It's our job to learn from our mistakes so we don't keep repeating them."
"Will you let me show how much I care by trying this (technique) with me?"
Then finally try to reintroduce the "feel the feeling" and face it and erase it steps again, especially if a child is expressing verbally the feeling they felt or having a reaction like crying--when the feeling is "up" inside this is the prime time to face it and erase it. Also, remind the child that being stuck in the negative feeling does not feel good, is not good for their health, and that if they face it and erase it, they will be able to not be so affected by someone else's negative actions in the future (this is true.) Really the smartest thing is not to ignore something, mentally brush it off, or mentally try to reframe the feeling with a falsely positive thought-- everything thing that happens inside us is an opportunity to work on oneself, and an insight into our own inner nature. Remember, what you resist will persist (no matter how "small" it may seem.)
7. Apologies and forgiveness is the next step. While a verbal apology is good, working on any resistance inside to forgiveness or apology is the much more profound task, and it must be addressed. Use the face it and erase it tools on feelings of resistance to apology/forgiveness and/or further defense of oneself/oneself's actions. If this resistance/defense is not addressed, it will only lead to more aggression, negativity, and ill-will. Facing and erasing a feeling in the moment for conflict resolution does erase that feeling -- but you must think of it like a spoke of a wheel, with many spokes coming from the real center, or source of the problem. It takes practice, patience, and persistence to work on and erase each spoke surrounding a problem inside.
Here's how reflection sentences work:
A blank sheet of paper is provided, and a writing utensil. Ask your student, "Do you understand why you are having to write sentences?" Calmly make sure they understand the behavior that has landed them here, and write their reflection sentence and the number of sentences (that will be repeatedly written by them) on the page. Sentences can be structured in a cause and effect manner:
I talked over my teacher, and by doing so, I disrupted the class.
I yelled at my classmate loudly, and by doing so, I stopped her from focusing on her learning.
I was playing with my baseball cards underneath my desk, and by doing so, I was distracted from learning.
Then have the student write the sentence 10-20 times, depending on the age, and have them take it home to get signed, or hang it up in a visible space in the room for the rest of the day as a reminder to them.
Continued Reflection: Closing circles (lasting 5-10 minutes) are great for reflective activities like:
- Asking the question: What’s one thing you learned or observed about yourself today?
- Doing a reflection/mental review of each moment of the day, starting with the beginning of the day until the present. Encourage your students to notice when they had issues or struggles, to stop as they think of the issue, and use the face it and erase it tools to wipe out the feeling behind the issue. If there is not time for this, encourage students to do this at home, maybe even before bed time. You can ask the following questions in lieu of, or in addition to this reflection practice:
How could/What did you learn from any mistakes, issues, or struggles today?
What could you be more aware of tomorrow?
What choices can you make to see that tomorrow is even better?