The effects of a combined conflict resolution-mindfulness intervention on the positive peer interactions of primary school aged children
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Research suggests that pro-social skills and self-regulatory abilities are necessary for healthy child development and are prerequisites for interacting in the school classroom in ways that avoid disruption and distress. Children without pro-social skills struggle to engage in positive social interaction with peers and may respond disruptively to classroom challenges. Increasing concerns in schools regarding problem behaviour displayed by students such as kicking, hitting and talking out of turn have been reported in the research. These behaviours often lead to a disruptive classroom environment, negative peer interaction and, according to teachers, remain the most challenging aspect of classroom management. Schools typically deal with problem behaviour by implementing rules and expectations for desired student behaviour. While these expectation-focused approaches have shown some positive effects, they do not directly teach skills for positive interaction and effective self-management of emotions. Conflict resolution education and mindfulness programmes have shown positive effects for improved pro-social skills and self-regulatory abilities in children. This thesis describes a combined conflict resolution-mindfulness group intervention that was implemented in one primary school classroom with children aged between six and seven years. The intervention involved teaching children four skills for effective conflict resolution and self-regulation over a period of four weeks. Repeated measures and teacher ratings of positive and negative peer interaction were used to assess programme effects. A single case AB replication design was used. The repeated measures findings indicated no change in positive or negative peer interactions for all nine focus children. Teacher reports of behaviour related to positive and negative peer interaction for all children in the classroom showed good effects. Possible reasons for the lack of change in the repeated measures findings include the young age of the children and an insufficient number of sessions and skill practice opportunities.