Elizabeth Englander discusses the adults' roles in student conflict prevention.
When you're thinking about prevention and how adults can help prevent these kinds of problems, I think it's important to be clear in our minds—we are never going to prevent small problems. We're 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 needs to be the goal. So the goal in doing that, it seems to me, 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 mean 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 do they treat you? And those kinds 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 that if you have those relationships, you're going to be stronger and better able to withstand and not care about those kinds of meannesses. Which is really only the only way to successfully avoid the problem.