El Buen Pastor Latino Community Services
Friday, May 24, 2013
Using Kind Words
This winter Director of Family Life Programs Enrique Rodriguez-Pastor began peer conflict mediation training for the elementary students who attend our after school tutoring program. Recent bouts of spring fever among the kids have resulted in many opportunities for the young facilitators to hone their skills.
This is how it works: when children have a disagreement on the playground or during free time, they find Quique to request mediation, and he calls on two of the trained volunteers to hear the case. Referring to a simple prepared script, the mediators allow each complainant in turn to share his or her point of view without interruption. After both positions have been heard and repeated back, the mediators ask those involved for suggestions on how to resolve the issue. In most cases “peace breaks out” as soon as both parties feel that they have been heard and understood.
The fourth graders, in particular, have fully adopted a mediation mindset. With wisdom beyond her years, ten-year-old Jenny said this during a session she was facilitating for first grade boys: “If you are having a problem don’t use your fists to try to solve it—use your words. And before you use words, be sure that you choose kind words so that you don’t hurt each other.”
Allowing others to be heard, and choosing kind words. Are there any life habits more important than these for children…or for any of us?