Elizabeth Englander on the Adult’s Role in Student Conflict Prevention
Elizabeth Englander is a professor of Psychology at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts
"When you’re thinking about prevention and how adults can help prevent these types of problems, I think it’s important to be clearer in our minds; we are never going to prevent small problems. We are not going to prevent people from becoming angry or having difficulties in their relationships, and we wouldn’t want to, right? Because children need to learn to cope with that. What we want to prevent, is we want to prevent very small episodes from swamping and destroying relationships. That’s—that needs to be the goal. So, the goal in doing that, it seems to me, I think, is to teach children how to cope with being upset or frustrated or jealous with people in a way that helps resolve their feelings instead of escalates their feelings.
The answer is really to talk with your kids about what does it means to be a friend? And how can you handle problems in your friendships so that you still are friends with these people? How do you treat your friends and how to they treat you? And those kind of issues, to really drive home the message that it’s the relationship that’s gold. That’s the thing you’re going for; that other people, at times, may be mean to you in this life, but, if you have those relationships, you’re going to be stronger and better able to withstand and not care about, those kind of meannesses, which is really the only way to successfully avoid the problem."