Peer Mediation – It Makes Perfect Sense
When children fall out and argue, they rush to a grown-up for help to sort things out. They need to tell, and quick, before the other kid gets in with their version of events! Communication, or rather a breakdown in communication, is likely at the root of the problem. That’s usually the case, whether we’re four years old or 54.
Children come into school with vastly differing communication skills. But whatever their baseline, they’re all encouraged to follow certain rules: to show each other respect, to listen to one another, to take turns speaking, and to be mindful of differences, whether cultural, religious, physical, developmental and so on. By following these rules kids develop skills that are invaluable throughout life.
Many kids are naturally brilliant at those skills. Many also thrive on helping others. When I worked in school, one of things I loved was to see the jostling for position when a new pupil came into class. They all wanted to help their new friend settle in. They wanted to be the buddy to show them around and make them feel welcome.
An extension of that is their wish to help out when there’s a problem or disagreement between friends. More should be done to tap into that natural desire many kids have to help others resolve their conflicts. Peer mediation’s a good way to go. By training children to become conflict resolvers we’re giving them the skills they need to go through life with an inquisitive approach. They’ll be willing to listen to others and they’ll strive to find solutions to help themselves and others.
When I first trained to be a mediator, I remember thinking that the course would be beneficial to anyone and everyone in society, so to me, it makes perfect sense to start by training children.
Elisabet Anderson, accredited family mediator.
I’m a mediator and a member of the College of Mediators. I’m also a non-practising solicitor. I help couples negotiate financial settlements and parenting arrangements in separation and divorce. As a family solicitor, I worked for one person. Now, as a mediator, I am able to support two people together to help them reach the best possible outcome for their whole family.