Young Peacemakers for the Early Years

I’m so excited we got the Young Peacemakers book for my rising 5 year old. We got it so we could use a common language and framework for conflict resolution, and teach him more about how to correctly express himself without getting in trouble for needing to tell us what he needs. He does a fairly decent job of self-control for a little guy with a hot fuse at his age, but hey, we call need help with self-control and self-expression, don’t we?

It’s recommended for 3rd through 7th graders, but if you want to make this book accessible to your younger kids too, here’s how I did it.

Tools you need to do this how I did it:

This book is split into 3 main sections: understanding, responding and preventing conflict. I’m not covering them in order with my son. Following the classical model, and going top down, this is the order I’m using:

  • Chapter 1: We will define conflict and see on a high level how we can respond to conflict
  • Chapter 6: We will look at what the Bible says about honoring God
  • Chapter 8: We’ll look at the freedom we find in forgiveness
  • Chapter 7: The Five A’s for resolving conflict

Then, we will back into the rest:

  • Chapter 3: Choices have consequences
  • Chapter 4: Making choices the wise way
  • Chapter 10: Think before you speak
  • Chapter 11: The communication pie
  • Chapter 2: What causes conflict
  • Chapter 9: Altering choices
  • Chapter 12: Making a respectful appeal

Of course, you may decide to use a different order – this is just what makes sense to me for our family.

Due to the age of my older son, who will be 5 soon, we are learning through games and interactive tools. I have leveraged the book’s tools to make my own ‘manipulatives’.

I’ll share pictures of what I created in the order that I’ll be using them. And I’m sure you can figure how to use the book’s images in tandem with the pie charts and brass brads to create your own at home.

For chapter 1, I laminated the slippery slope after adding a little color to more visibly show my son the danger vs safe responses to conflict. This is hanging on our wall at home for reference now.

I also made print outs of the images we found on pages 23-27 that further defines each type of response. We will use these cards to play games, put them in order of the slippery slope, and to test our memory of what the terms mean. We will act out these types of responses, examine the responses of people we read about in books and ponder how the books would end if the characters had responded differently to each other, and certainly use the suggested activities and Bible stories in the Peacemaker book as well.

The images below share the same colors I used in the slippery slope above, and are laminated on card stock as well. The backs of the cards have their matching descriptions from the book. I just used a glue stick to glue them onto a rectangular shaped piece of card stock to center the images and words.

It’s obvious the lesson lengths are much longer than a 5 year old can take in at one sitting. We will do the whole lesson, but in 3-4 sessions, playing our games in-between lessons. We will also add the corresponding memory verse to our memory work for the weeks we are doing each chapter.

In chapter 6, the book discusses honoring God through conflict by trusting Him, serving others, and growing to be more like Christ. I made a pie chart for my son to play with while we discuss how we wish to respond to conflict. I’m doing this chapter second because we lead with desired behavior in our home whenever we can. Here are some example questions you can use with your kids at home too:

  • Wow, that was awesome obedience! You obeyed me ‘all the way, right away and with a cheerful heart!’
  • I’m sure proud of you because you really pleased God when you [insert victory]
  • I can tell your heart is growing more like Christ’s because you [insert victory]
  • You really demonstrated a new attitude when you [insert difference]. You used to [insert old habit], and now more and more I see you showing more [insert fruit of the Spirit]. I can tell you’re working hard. Praise God!]
  • Let’s look at what happened together. God allowed this [insert experience] to happen. Then He used it to [insert lesson]. And you showed maturity when you [insert response].
  • Is that doing good?
  • How is that serving your friend?
  • How can you bless your friend? your father? your sibling? me?
  • How can you imitate God? What does the Bible say about [insert struggle].
  • Does that [insert behavior] honor God? How can you do that better?

On pages 47, the book outlines main root desires that cause conflict, and the two kinds of choices people can make as a result of our desires. The pie chart below is just so we can review again where conflict comes from and the kinds of choices we can make in response to them. We will discuss at what point we go wrong in our decision-making. We will revisit this again when we talk about chapter 2, but I’m ‘spiraling’ back on purpose to this tool below.

In chapter 8 we look at how to forgive. We will memorize this simple poem below: good thought, hurt you not, gossip never, friends forever.” And my son can color this page if he wants with wipe off markers. Chapter 8 really does a deep dive into the falsehoods of forgiveness, and how it looks different in God’s economy: what it really looks like to fully forgive someone, when to forgive, and the why’s and how’s of forgiveness. This is a chief lesson of life. I wanted to hit this lesson sooner rather than later.

In chapter 7, we will use a spin dial to work our way around how to really forgive someone else properly, and make sure we’re addressing the three principles of forgiveness: repentance, confession and forgiveness which underlie the steps outlined below. We will use this tool again and again until we’ve got it down.

And now we are ready to back into the rest of the meat in more depth.

We already understand choices have consequences in our home, but we will visit this again in chapter 3. I didn’t make a tool for this chapter, but we will really review the concepts on page 54: the lists of consequences for wise vs poor choices. Then we will discuss how to make wise choices in chapter 4. This chapter reinforces chapter 3 quite nicely.

From chapter 10, we will learn how to think before we speak. This is my favorite lesson from the book! When we’re over the heated emotional part of conflict, we’ll go back to work our way through this dial below. As you know with young children, you have to ‘bring the temperature down’ before you can have any real conversations about what happened and how they are feeling. We separate and calm down before we examine and talk about how situations could be handled with more gentleness, wisdom, and kindness in the future.

In chapter 11 we will focus on how we are communicating. We struggle with attitudes in our home, so this chapter on self-expression is paramount. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture of the inside of the ‘pie’ for you for this one. But the pie is divided into 4 main sections: respectful words, respectful tone of voice, respectful body language, and respectful listening. In each pie slice, I’ve written some examples of each of the main sections. In respectful words, it says things like gentle answers, one message. In respectful tone of voice, it says things like pleasant tone, normal volume. In respectful body language, I wrote things like good eye contact, friendly or compassionate expression, standing or sitting up straight. In respectful listening it says “I’m sorry I don’t understand what you mean”, “Could you explain what you mean by that?”, “It’s hard to hear that, but I see”, and “I understand but disagree.”

We will finally go back to chapter 2 to look at what causes our conflicts.

In chapter 9 we can discuss how to make different choices, and we’ll add this to our layers of learning when we’re responding to problems. We’ll brainstorm how we could have avoided that particular conflict in the future, and problem-solve together to prevent more occurrences like the one at hand.

And finally in chapter 12 we will learn how we make a respectful appeal. We’ll learn what an appeal is, and how and when to make one. We can practice by making mock situations, or if we come across a real instance when it’s appropriate, then we will be well equipped.

This book has a lot of depth for a 5 year old, and even for a 9 year old. We will most likely revisit this book every 2-3 years or so for reminders, and for the next child of mine up and coming to this age. I’m glad we now have a framework for conflict to use in our home.

What we did prior to this was similar, but had a little less structure because it was more appropriate for a younger child. Now that we’re getting into higher cognition and awareness, we’re addressing the heart issues more and more, and training my older son how to ask God to examine his, and request changes from other people.

Classical education calls for defining grammar first, then application and finally self-expression. That approach may help you see why we focus on definitions and memorization so much. To ensure mastery of this topic, before we move from lesson to lesson, I’ll make sure my son can tell me the various steps, lists, or attributes from each major category we’re studying. We memorize through games, stories, pneumonic devices, song, and movement. (Believe me, his power for memorization is stronger than mine. I’m studying the skill of memorization right now through two books, just so I can keep up with him!) Then, when we’re applying the terms to real situations we will have agreed on a basis for the conversation, a method of assessment and some pathways to resolution.

I hope you’ve found this helpful!