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Activity

CONFLICT JAR

Share little problems before they become big problems

A conflict jar is a great way to prevent minor disagreements from growing into major disputes. Children can write out concerns, complaints, and problems on slips of paper and put them into the conflict jar for discussion at a set time. For example, a family might have a meeting every week to discuss a variety of items, including items in the conflict jar. This can also be a weekly classroom activity.

All the guidelines for resolving conflicts discussed in other activities on this website apply to resolving conflicts from the conflict jar. Each slip of paper should be taken seriously and discussed openly, honestly, and with respect. This is a chance to model effective conflict resolution and let children know their concerns are valid. It also gives children the power to do something about their problems.

You can implement a conflict ritual during meetings for people who are really angry about something. Before you dip into the conflict jar, ask if anyone is really upset about anything. If someone says yes, everyone in the group has to guess what the person is angry about. Ask the angry person a series of questions, to which they can only answer "yes" or "no." This helps people to master calmly dealing with anger, a step at a time. It also makes the angry person feel more cared about, listened to, and understood as they are the focus of attention. It can help create trust. The anger may be diffused as the angry person feels other people are working hard to find out what's wrong.

© SV Bosak, www.legacyproject.org

Materials
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Large jar or container
Slips of paper
Pen/pencil

Connections
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Families
Schools (social
  studies; health)

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