The Negotiation Table

A repost by Jenny Harrison

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.”
~~Max Lucado

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Matthew 5:9 (ESV)

“Mom, she won’t let me have a turn with the new game.”
“Teacher, he called me a name and stuck his tongue out at me.”

02052013_01When you are the adult receiving a snapshot of the big picture, it can be difficult to discern the truth. Even when you call in all involved and begin the investigative process, you can bet the facts will be clouded by perception and a heap of hurt feelings.

Then comes the hard part — when the responsible adult attempts to make a fair ruling, the angry ones will protest. “You always take their side.” “You love them more than me.” “It’s not fair.” Sound familiar?

This was a constant issue in my colleague’s classroom. In order to promote positive decision making and conflict resolution skills in her students, she incorporated the “negotiation table”.

02052013_02This is how it worked:
Disagreements and arguments that clearly did not need adult intervention would be sent to a special table for resolution. The two children ready to do battle would sit at a table, face each other, and were asked to talk through their issues. (Note: Keep children at arm’s length as kicking and punching have been known to occur.) When they were able to come to an agreement, they were free to step away from the table and resume their activity.

In most cases the children were ready to go back to their play and activities, therefore, they wasted no time coming to an acceptable resolution.

One day, the teacher reported that an argument broke out during recess and one of the children involved stated that he would tell the teacher. The other child reminded him, “If we don’t play nice, we gotta go to the ‘go-shun’ table.” An agreement concerning taking turns was struck and play time continued.

02052013_03Our children look to us for guidance in many situations, but I am convinced we “big kids” could learn a lesson or two from the young. When my feelings get hurt, I tend to harbor and justify them. This tendency goes against all that my Father in heaven expects of me.

So I pray:
Father, I ask you to examine my heart and reveal to me my stubborn and unbending attitudes. Keep me humble so I may not be too proud to meet my fellow brother or sister at the “go-shun table”. It is only through you that I am able to step above my flawed human nature. In your most precious name I pray, Amen.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV)

Jenny Harrison is a professional counselor, speech pathologist, public speaker, and Christian writer. She is the owner and operator of the Heart of Texas Speech and Counseling Center in Gustine, Texas and founder of Breath of Life Women’s Ministries.

The team members of Breath of Life Women’s Ministries are Proverbs 31 She Speaks graduates and are available for speaking engagements.

Copyright © 2013, Jenny Harrison, All rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Quote by Max Lucado. Bible scripture taken from the English Standard Version.

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