Discussing feelings and perspective in order to solve conflicts peacefully can help children foster empathy. I had the opportunity to speak with our fourth-grade students about the definition and cause of conflicts. Conflicts may occur because of different opinions, wants/needs, ways of doing things, and different perspectives. The students had the opportunity to look at different pictures and tell the class what they saw. They were able to recognize that it’s possible to see the same situation differently. Students discussed their daily activities and the way that they accomplish them. They were able to identify that even though they may do things differently, they are able to all achieve their goal. In a conflict situation, there is often no right or wrong. It’s just that each person has his/her own perspective.
One way to start discussing feelings and other people’s point of view is to use the characters we see in movies, television, and books. Here are some discussion questions that you can use at home:
- How do you think that character is feeling? Discuss what they see. (their facial expression, body language, and behavior as possible clues for their feelings.
- Why do you think they’re feeling that way? Discuss what may have caused that person to feel that way.
- How would you feel if this happened to you? Feel free to share your feelings, especially if they’re different from that of your child. This is a great opportunity to point out that not everyone reacts to situations the same way. We all have our own perspective.
- Ask if they’ve ever been in a similar situation. If so, how did it make them feel? How did they handle it? Would they handle it differently if it happened again?
- Do you agree with the choice that the character made? Why or why not? Discuss the consequences of their choice. Was it positive or negative?
- What could that character do differently next time? Brainstorm choices that might have a better outcome for the characters involved?