Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution

Kindergarten-3rd Grade 

As part of the school counseling curriculum, students are taught problem solving and conflict resolution by learning “A Bug and A Wish,”  and “The DeBug System.”

A Bug and a Wish is a helpful strategy for young children to use when dealing with conflicts among peers and siblings.   It helps children identify what bothers them and helps them think of a solution to the problem.  The method is, “It bugs me when _______.  I wish ______.”  We have been practicing in class and students should be able to give you examples of how to use the models.

The “DeBug” System is as follows:

Step 1:  Ignore.  If that doesn’t work…
Step 2:  Move Away.  If that doesn’t work…
Step 3:  Talk Friendly.  (Bug and a Wish).  If that doesn’t work…
Step 4:  Talk Firmly.  (“I need you to stop now.  If you don’t, I will tell and adult.”)  If that doesn’t work…
Step 5:  Get Adult Help.
*If you feel unsafe immediately tell an adult

As we concentrate on being better problem solvers as school, parents can help at home!  When your child complains about a conflict with a sibling or friend, ask the following:

  • Have you tried the DeBug System?
  • What step are you on?
  • Come back if you get to step five.

When your child has reached step five and needs an adult’s help, intervene by asking him or her:

  • What do you want to happen?
  • How can you make it happen?
  • Express confidence that they can work it out.
  • If necessary, help the children talk it through.

4th- 5th Grade

Older students are taught that conflict equals a disagreement.  It is neither good or bad, but a part of life.  Conflicts just happen.  When conflicts get worse we say it escalates.  When conflicts get better we say it deescalates.

Steps to deescalating or resolving conflicts are as follows:

  1. We find out, “What is the problem?”  (We use “I Statements” to tell our point of view)
  2. We attack the problem, not the person.
  3. We listen to each other.
  4. We care about each other’s feelings.
  5. We are responsible for what we say or do.

Just as “A Bug and A Wish” is taught to help young children express their feelings in an appropriate manner, “I Statements” are taught to older students in the same manner.  The method is, “I feel ____________ when you ____________ because _____________.”  When we use “I statements,” the other person realizes how we feel, and because we are not blaming them, they are more likely to try to come up with a “win-win” solution.  A “You Statement” usually expresses anger and blames or criticizes the other person.  People often react to “You Statements” by defending themselves and finding a way to counterattack.
Using “I Statements” and the steps to deescalating conflicts, takes a lot of practice.  As we practice at school, please reinforce these steps with your child at home by encouraging and modeling appropriate ways to deal with disagreements.