WCPS teachers learn conflict resolution tools

A vast variety of topic sessions were available to participants at Wolf Creek Public Schools’ first Mental Health Symposium

A vast variety of topic sessions were available to participants at Wolf Creek Public Schools’ first Mental Health Symposium on Saturday, Oct. 25, including an in-depth look at the conflict cycle, which will help defuse and rectify negative situations.

Rob Reid, principal of Wolf Creek Academy, was leading the session and says conflict in the classroom stems from the stress and perception of the affronted.

“It’s really important to understand where our students are coming from,” said Reid.

Negative behavior is related to the brain’s limbic system, where emotions and the body’s fight, flight or freeze response it stored.

Reid says there are three types of stress: positive stress, which is tolerable and beneficial; tolerable stress, such as a competitive sports competition, and toxic stress. “It’s over some period of time . . . it really impacts.”

Toxic stress in early childhood can impair brain circuits and result in smaller brain development. This can cause feelings of guilt, abandonment and inadequacy, classified as irrational thoughts.

Common irrational thoughts of youth include: they must always do everything perfectly or they are a failure, everyone must like them or they are a “loser”, people who do something they do not like are bad people and must be punished and everyone must be fair to them because they are entitled to that. Such beliefs are where stress and conflict can breed.

“There’s advantages to irrational beliefs,” said Reid. “They allow people to feel secure, brings psychological order to a chaos and allows people to protect themselves from helplessness, confusion and anger.”

Actions based on irrational thoughts can drive self-fulfilling prophecies and push youth to return to negative behavior because it results less frightening than the unknown.

“What kids believe about themselves is more important in determining their behavior than any facts about them,” said Reid, who explained the conflict cycle can be used by teachers and administration for cognitive reconstruction to tap into a student’s perception.

“Perception drives our thoughts, thoughts drive our feelings and feelings drive our behavior,” said Reid.

People have seven defense mechanisms; rationalization, projection, displacement, sublimation, conversion and regression and it is not an event that triggers feelings but a person’s perception of the event.

The conflict cycle, or a similar strategy, is a tool to break the pattern of negative behavior because it can sooth an offended perception.

“They will not remember what we said, they will not remember what we did but they will remember how we made them feel,” Reid told those in attendance.