As a school counselor, one of the most important aspects of your job is helping students navigate the complexities of relationships and conflict resolution. Teaching children how to effectively manage conflicts is crucial for creating a positive and inclusive school environment!
Read on for reviews of my 7 must-have books and explanations of 5 of my favorite strategies for teaching conflict resolution to elementary learners.
7 Must-Have Story Books for Teaching Conflict Resolution
Don’t underestimate the power of incorporating books into your school counseling curriculum – try these 7 books about conflict resolution to enhance learning for your elementary students this year! (Amazon Affiliate Links)
- “We Disagree” by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
- “The Great Compromise” by Julia Cook
- “Talk and Work It Out” by Cheri J Meiners
- “The Fort” by Laura Perdew
- “The Not-So-Friendly Friend” by Christina Furnival
- “I Can Use An I-Statement” by Jenelle French
- “Enemy Pie” by Derek Munson
As you read any (or all!) of these storybooks with your students, talk openly with them about conflicts as they arise in the plot and discuss how the characters are feeling. Ask questions to encourage deeper thoughts about how these stories relate to students’ lives, too!
1) “We Disagree” by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
In “We Disagree”, Mouse and Squirrel are best friends. But, they soon worry about the future of their friendship when they realize that they like different things! Their story teaches students that it’s okay to disagree, and having different opinions and preferences can be a good thing.
The author encourages students to communicate openly with others, even if (and especially if) we disagree. This book not only promotes positive conflict resolution, but also inclusivity, acceptance, and the beauty of diversity.
2) “The Great Compromise” by Julia Cook
In “The Great Compromise,” Cora June and Wilson both want to make all of the decisions. They yell at each other at recess over which game to play. They fight over a popsicle…and so much more! Cora June and Wilson both want to be leaders in the class, but they have to learn to compromise!
This story emphasizes the importance of finding a middle ground without sacrificing one’s core values. Children learn that compromise is a positive and effective approach to conflict resolution.
3) “Talk and Work it Out” by Cheri J. Meiners
Cheri J. Meiners’ “Talk and Work It Out” is a wonderful practical guidebook for young children facing conflicts. The book introduces clear and simple strategies for effective communication, emphasizing the importance of expressing feelings and thoughts constructively. It takes a proactive and positive approach to common conflicts children face and gives ideas for working through them.
With relatable examples and engaging illustrations, Meiners empowers children to actively listen, share their perspectives, and work together to find solutions!
4) “The Fort” by Laura Perdew
In this story, two children separately find a fort in the woods. For the boy, the fort becomes a castle for a prince. For the girl, it is a pirate ship. Things don’t go so well when the two discover each other playing on what they each perceive to be their own fort. Eventually, they are able to work through their conflicts and compromise – the fort becomes a spaceship for them both!
The story explores the dynamics of teamwork, problem-solving, and compromise. Through the adventures of imaginative play, children learn valuable lessons about effective communication, cooperation, and the importance of working together to overcome challenges. “The Fort” is a relatable and entertaining storybook to teach conflict resolution skills!
5) “The Not-So-Friendly Friend” by Christina Furnival
Christina Furnival is a licensed mental health therapist and mom who understands that some friends are just not-so-friendly. Throughout this storybook, children learn how to kindly but firmly and assertively stand up for themselves when dealing with a bully. Settling boundaries in friendships is very important, and when these lines are crossed, it’s not okay!
This book gives children the tools they need to resolve conflicts by speaking up for themselves.
6) “I Can Use An I-Statement” by Jenelle French
Jenelle French’s “I Can Use an I-Statement” teaches children the three-step process for using an I-Statement to express their emotions without placing blame on others. This process includes saying “I feel… when… Can you please…?”. Children also learn from several simple examples of real-life small problems that can be solved using I-Messages.
This story is simple, to the point, straightforward, and perfect for young students who are learning how to peacefully resolve conflicts
7) “Enemy Pie” by Derek Munson
“Enemy Pie” is about a young boy who learns an unexpected lesson about friendship when Jeremy Ross moves into the neighborhood. The boy believes Jeremy is his number one neighborhood enemy! His dad is willing to help him get rid of his enemy using Enemy Pie, but the boy must agree to spend an entire day with Jeremy Ross first!
Throughout this book, children are encouraged to get to know someone before making judgments. It’s also a powerful book to use to help teach students the importance of understanding, empathy, and the potential for positive connections even in the midst of initial conflict.
5 Strategies for Teaching Conflict Resolution
It’s important to have a “counselor toolbox” with a variety of reliable and effective ideas at your fingertips when teaching conflict resolution. Books are a great first choice, but consider adding some of these options too:
- Interactive role-playing
- Lessons and activities
- Calming techniques
- Collaborate with teachers
- Parent involvement
1) Interactive Role-Playing
Involve students in role-playing situations to practice real-life conflicts they may experience or have already experienced with others. This hands-on approach allows them to work through potential conversations and ways to solve problems in a safe environment.
Encourage them to think about different perspectives and try to take on a variety of different roles!
2) Lessons & Activities
Use hands-on resources that guide students through the steps of conflict resolution so that they have a better grasp of the concept.
These two resources are perfect additions to your counseling toolbox:
- This Conflict Resolution Lesson teaches students why conflict resolution skills are important and 12 ways to resolve conflicts with their peers.
- The Bullying vs. Conflict Lesson teaches students about the difference between bullying and conflict and how to resolve conflicts peacefully.
You can find lots of other done-for-you resources about conflict resolution (and more!) in the Counselor Collab Membership!
3) Calming Strategies
We all know that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to resolve conflicts when emotions are high. Consider adding a Calm Corner to your office space or classroom to teach students to cope with big feelings. A Calm Corner is a great, tangible place for students to manage their emotions so that they can think clearly before trying to resolve a conflict.
4) Collaborate With Teachers
Work closely with teachers to integrate conflict resolution lessons into the regular education curriculum. Demonstrate the ways that this subject can be woven into academic lessons like language arts, social studies, and even math! Ask questions and find out how they could most use your support.
This collaboration works wonders for rapport building and will carry you far as a school counselor!
5) Parent Involvement
Finally, never underestimate the power of parent involvement when it comes to resolving conflicts!
Send home resources and tips for parents to continue fostering positive conflict resolution skills at home. Follow up with additional information or reminders after conflict resolution lessons have been taught in classrooms or individual children have needed additional support from you.
You may also consider presenting at a PTO meeting or being active in the school-wide communication app for more presence to parents.
By incorporating these 7 books and other strategies as a school counselor, you can confidently teach the students in your school about conflict resolution! Do you have any other favorite conflict resolution books or activities? If so, I’d love to hear about them! Send me a message on IG or leave a comment below!