Conflict Resolution:  Turn your spring struggles into spring successes

At long last, spring has arrived. The sun is shining, and warm weather abounds (between the rain storms). You are gearing your students up for field trips, special projects, and outdoor learning. You arrive at morning duty on the playground and greet the students with smiles and laughter.

Then you hear it. Listen . . . it’s coming from the field on the left . . . and it’s getting louder. Someone, no, several someones, have broken the peace of this spring morning with shouting.

Deep breaths.

You start working your way over to the field before an all-out brawl breaks loose.

It’s okay. It’s still going to be a lovely spring day. You make your way to the left field, and just before you arrive . . . there’s another one. This time it sounds more like crying.

More deep breaths.

Just then, a ball bounces in front of you with two students in hot pursuit. Both students reach the ball at the same time and skip the arguing. Punches and jabs are flying before you can open your mouth.

That’s when you realize that you are going to need more than a few deep breaths to get through this tumultuous spring day.

Springtime, with all its fanfare, is often a time of escalating conflicts. Students are antsy from a long winter of learning, and their classmates are now more like annoying siblings than playful friends.

The key to making the spring season a success is to teach students how to resolve conflicts appropriately—that means using their words and only seeking out adult intervention when all other courses of action have failed (and, of course, before the fights begin).

Sound too good to be true?

Our article, Teach Students to Resolve their Own Conflicts, has several great tips and tricks that you can use to help your students learn to resolve conflicts on their own. This article employs Rock Paper Scissors (Roshambo) as a schoolwide (or classwide) tool. Whenever students have a disagreement, they use Rock Paper Scissors to resolve the issue. This allows them to solve their problems before seeking help from adults.

For a refresher on implementing a Rock Paper Scissors strategy for students of any age, check out Make Rock Paper Scissors a Habit. Kids love this conflict-resolution strategy because it empowers them to solve their own conflicts in a fair, developmentally-appropriate way.

Want to make Rock Paper Scissors the norm in your classroom? Try using these games to help your students practice.

Roshambo Grow or Evolution

On the playground, most conflicts can be solved with a good ol’ fashioned game of Rock Paper Scissors (also called Roshambo). Use this simple playground tool to increase cooperation and communication as students are challenged to evolve from Eggs to Superheroes! Can your students all become Superheroes and fly high around the playground?

Hero’s Challenge or Roshambo Rockstar

As any comic book collector knows, being a fan can be even more fun than saving the world. In this game, players get to do both. Players play Rock Paper Scissors in pairs. Whoever is less successful becomes the winner’s number one fan, rooting for them as they find another player to challenge. By the end of the game, the whole group is cheering and clapping for two finalists.

This game is a good excuse for all students to practice Rock Paper Scissors, but the real focus is teamwork. By cheering for each other, kids learn to celebrate teammates and refocus on team goals after personal setbacks.

Suddenly, this spring season is seeming more promising. Hopefully, you feel inspired by these fun techniques. In our experience, kids are proud to use Rock Paper Scissors to resolve their own conflicts and keep games moving at recess. We are excited to see how these ideas transform your playground!

If you’d like to see how your playground fares today, take our three-minute Recess Checkup quiz!