Resolving Books

Many Mini Life Changes, bullying Books, Anger management books & Sibling Rivalry Books

01 Jun

Preparing for State Exams

Posted in Uncategorized on 01.06.15 by Merlyn

Here we are once again at exam time and this time round we have a daughter doing her Leaving Certificate (the Irish final exams that decide your college destination). So far so good, we are ready to worry and fret with the best of the parents…….except Sarah already has a college place. She auditioned in November and got an offer to study at the Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Since then we have been without the parental anxiety that is suppose to accompany us through this final year. What are we to do?

As other parents gear up, shackling their teenagers to their desks, paying for grinds and cooking their favourite foods. We are twiddling our thumbs…..well, maybe not quite. Parents are genetically predisposed to worry, so we are doing our best. Coming out with choice phrases such as “its always better to have a good leaving cert under your belt” or ” Are you sure you’ve studied your Irish enough?. We can’t help ourselves as we offer to go through Maths and Geography with her, whether she needs it or not.

Quite simply, state exams are a right of passage for us parents. We want to be part of it all, worrying our way through every stage. Each step our young people take and each flight out into the world count for us.

Sarah might not need it, but we will worry and fret as all good parents do, regardless of the need. Then we will all move onto the next big family adventure……our sons Leaving Cert in two years time!!



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27 May

Children and Marriage Equality

Posted in Uncategorized on 27.05.15 by Merlyn

Ireland has voted to extend marriage to same sex relationships. The country has quite rightly become a focal point for equality issues and a new understanding of what it means to be in a loving relationship. While the referendum was not about children or family in literal terms, much of the focus  has been on whether children would suffer if this vote was passed.

It has been a confusing debate with the the care of children being discussed through the narrow prism of parental gender. To view the posters and listen to the debate, you would think that the only family that existed, other than that of the proposed same sex pairing, was that of the mum and dad in their traditional roles. The reality is very different, of course. Children live in very many different types of families already.

The more important question for our society to consider is HOW we support all types of families to bring up our children. What rights do they have in our communities. Do we listen to them and, if their families get into trouble, do we support them enough.

The turn out for the marriage referendum was 68%. The turn out for the children’s referendum last year was 34%. How high up our priority list are children really? They played a huge part in the arguments about marriage and now that is over, will this nations most important group of citizens stay the focus of our intention?

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18 May

Youtube clip

Posted in Uncategorized on 18.05.15 by Merlyn

Here is a clip talking about the Salt Programme, which helps children resolve their own rows.

The S.A.L.T. Programme is an innovative programme, specially developed for the School Curriculum and is aligned to the key strands of the SPHE (Primary) Programme: Myself, Myself and Others, Relating to Others,Myself and the World. Through The S.A.L.T. Programme, children will learn what conflict is, what it feels like to be in conflict and how to negotiate effectively to create a better outcome for themselves and others. The programme focuses on building each child’s capacity to develop and access their own skills set when dealing with difficult and sometimes emotional situations.

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13 Dec

Extracts from article written in ACResolution Summer 2010

Posted in Uncategorized on 13.12.11 by Merlyn

For 14 years of my working life as a symphonic violinist, I was also a union negotiator. I spent almost as much time negotiating workplace conflict as I did playing in the orchestra for which I was negotiating. Alongside me were my orchestral colleagues, which gave me an unusual insight into how the same group of individuals coped with the performance stress of the concert platform in comparison to the stress of negotiating high-conflict disputes. The feelings of stress and anxiety felt the same in both environments, but how we handled them was quite different.

At the negotiation table, depending on how nervous we felt, we would struggle, however, when it came to the concert platform our competency level for performing was above that of rehearsals, despite, or because of, the adrenalin flowing through our veins.

The parallel continued when I trained to become a mediator. After my first class I automatically sat down and reorganized the training manual into a rehearsal schedule with daily skills exercises, structured practice and reflective learning. My mediating colleagues were fascinated with what I took to be the normal discipline of learning. I then did a Master’s research project to test whether using the methodology of teaching children the violin could effectively transfer to teaching them conflict resolution strategies. The findings were positive and I have been developing this work with Drumcondra Education Centre since.
Performance-Based Conflict Resolution Training for Children

Like musical performance, each conflict situation is unique and this requires us to access and use our skills in a new and different way. We not only need to remember what we have learned, but also to select the relevant response, which we feel is appropriate for the circumstances. It is therefore not enough to teach a set
of skills with a process and expect individuals to be proficient. We have to develop the capacity to deal with each conflict as it arises, effectively selecting and executing the right skills for that situation.
Performance methodology focuses on increasing that capacity to produce skills in a unique situation under pressure and utilizes brain plasticity, the ability for the brain to change and grow to maximum effect, developing a greater capacity to act when resolving conflict.
As we know, when we are in conflict we feel anxious, we fight for the right words, trying to keep our emotions under control. When we are under pressure like this, our amygdala kicks in and floods our brain with adrenalin, shutting off the language centres of the brain. Just at the time we need to think the clearest and with most affect, our brain effectively switches off.
Musicians treat this surge of adrenalin as a normal part of their working life and use practise routines to prepare for this phe- nomenon. These practice methods are highly structured and have been the musicians’ way of life for hundreds of years. We have found that the methods used can easily be adapted to conflict resolution education for children, helping them to find the capac- ity to act effectively when they too are under pressure.

So, what can we learn from the world of classical music? Instrument lessons are largely conducted through music, with around 90% of the lesson time given to playing the instrument. This maximizes the student’s experience of playing and helps them not only to gain in confidence, but also understand what it is to be a musician.

The medium we use to resolve conflict is language, therefore conflict resolution programmes for children should maximise language throughout. Using discussion circles and stories, inter- active games and drama help children to express themselves and connect with each other through language. The more proficient they become with conversation, the more adept they will be in the very medium they use to resolve conflict. So, similar to the young player, they learn to be peacemakers by talking, listening and negotiating in their lessons.
Musicians place high value on structured practice – and not only musicians. Golfer Arnold Palmer has been quoted as saying “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” When I trained as a media- tor, I set myself half an hour everyday to consciously practice skills such as reflective listening, reframing, powerful questions, etc. On top of this, I spent an extra year doing roleplays and extra training to maximise my rehearsal time with the mediation process, before taking real cases. Slowly, I moved from focusing on the mediation skills themselves, while mediating, to having my full attention on my clients. I had integrated my skills base and could use them easily and with confidence, reaching a flow in mediation, through the discipline of practice.
So, what was it that happened to me and why did such a drilling of skills help my creativity as a mediator? Daniel Goleman (2003) describes the findings of a series of scans done on a number of elite concert violinists’ brains. These scans showed a significant growth of grey matter in the areas of the brain required to play the violin. These artists had all done around 10,000 hours of practice before reaching adulthood and seemed to have devel- oped their brains to be fit for the task, leaving their minds free to engage with the creative, uniqueness of each performance. We all marvel when we hear a great musician play. What we should remember is that the great, creative interpretation we are listening to sits on and around a strong structure of skills.
The artistry involved in resolving conflict also sits on a strong, integrated set of skills and we can only transfer the great art of peacemaking to the next generation if we understand how to transfer and integrate that skills set. Musicians understand that there are no shortcuts to skills integration and, quite simply, the more children rehearse, the more they improve their capacity to act effectively in a real situation.
I have sourced and developed a portfolio of children’s interactive exercises, which range from listening games, to anger ladders to mimes, poetry and beyond. I use it very much like a scale book. In the lessons I do, I will have a practice time during which these exercises are used. There are several different exercises on each skill so the children will not get bored and the skills break down into small component parts, for example a game, where each child mime another’s child’s body language, acts as a precursor to a reflective listening exercise.
Finally, just as the musician needs to understand that their goal is to bring music to life, so our children need to develop an un- derstanding of peacemaking. We have created a series of conflict stories, which highlight the skills the children have learned and help them experience peacemaking as a positive way of living.

We have found in Drumcondra that the structured discipline of learning a classical instrument can help us develop new and interesting approaches to conflict resolution education. When we first introduced the children’s programme to teachers, their immediate response was to ask for an adult course of the same nature. The resulting adult course is now regularly given as part of the Continued Professional Development of teachers in the centre and is soon to be accredited at national level.
Bodine, R.J. and Crawford, D.K. The Handbook of Conflict Resolution Education. (1998, San Francisco, Jossey Bass).
Goleman, D. Destructive Emotions and How We Can Overcome Them. (2004, Bloomsbury).
Goleman, D. Social Intelligence The Revolutionary New Science of Human Relationships. (2007, Bantam Books).
McAuslan F. “The S.A.L.T.” Programme: Creative Solutions to Conflict. (2008, Learning Horizons, Dublin.).
Schwartz, J. & Begley, S. The Mind and the Brain Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force. (2002).

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13 Dec

Overview of Course

Posted in Uncategorized on 13.12.11 by Merlyn

There will be three main learning modes to the course:


On line Modules:

1. Dynamics of Conflict.

2. Practical Mediation Skills

3. The Emotional Content of Mediation

4. The Process of Mediation

Evening Classes:

The evening classes will be set up as a Community Circle. The principle of this will be to support learning in a shared space.


Course Manual and Reflective Journal

The Course Manual will contain the content of the course. In some cases the content will mirror the On-line Course and in others the two will compliment each other.

Participants will be required to preread the content for that evenings session. This is to maximise the practical skills learning in the sessions.

The Reflective Journal will be the core means of reflective learning for each participant and will be their main core competency for their future peacemaking life.

Therefore there are  five levels of learning:

On-line Course: Introduction to material plus initial exercises.
Manual: Second engagement with material.
First Session: Integration of content.
Second Session: Practical Application of integrated learning.
Reflective Manual: The thread of Reflective Learning throughout the course.

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13 Dec

Tutors for the New Course

Posted in Uncategorized on 13.12.11 by Merlyn

The tutors for the new Mediation Course met yesterday for the first time.  The course will be running in Sligo, the tutors there will be Paddy O’Connor and Margaret McGarrigle, in Enniscorthy, the tutors there will be Paddy O’Connor and Ann Walsh and in Drumcondra, where the tutors will be Tricia Hayes and Fiona McAuslan. All the tutors have many years experience in the training mediators and we are delighted they have agreed to work on the CRE Ireland project.

CRE Ireland (Conflict Resolution Education Ireland), with its the business name and registered trademark, is the platform Drumcondra Education Centre has implemented to develop all its work in this area. It is hoped that the tutors working on this Certified Mediators Course will play an integral part over the next number of years as we develop our work.

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30 Nov

Course starting in January

Posted in Uncategorized on 30.11.11 by Merlyn

This new course will start in January. It will include three On-line Modules that will be downloadable into your Iphones, as well as evening classes.
SUMMARY OF Certified Mediators Training Modules
Drumcondra Education Centre


Conflict is part of life. We spend hundreds of hours dealing with it; in our
families, our places of work and in our relationships. The effects of conflict can
be devastating, ruining lives and shattering families. Yet, for all its prevalence
and chaos we rarely have any training in how to handle it. We rely on an
assortment of cultural and familial influences to teach us what to do.

It is, however, possible for us to learn new ways of handling conflict. By
understanding what conflict is and how it escalates, we can choose different
ways of resolving conflict, and by learning new skills, we can improve our ability
to turn disputes and rows into possibilities for resolution and growth.

Conflict resolution processes are designed to be useful. They help us to reach mutual
understandings, which in turn, help us negotiate new ways forward. They link social emotional skills with negotiation techniques and build paths to agreement. The paths in themselves can deliver real, incremental change in how we handle our conflicts. Here is the Modular Lay out:

MODULE 1: Understanding Conflict

Session 1: The Dynamic of Conflict.
Overview of Course and Journal.

Session 2: Interactive Nature of Conflict.
First Exercises for Journal.

Session 3: Anger and Fear: The Two Big Emotions and How to Handle Them.
Tasks from Module 1.

MODULE 2: Neuro-science and Conflict.

Session 1: Conflict and the Brain.

Session 2: Linking Mediation Skills to effective interventions.

MODULE 3: Consensual Dispute Resolution and Mediation

Session 1: Negotiation – Collaboration in Action.

Session 2:  Negotiating in Conflict. Plus Session on Journal.

MODULE 4: Listening to Conflict and the Chicago Community Model

Session 1: Relating to Others – Workshop on Listening.

Session 2: The Skills of the Active Listener – Questions, Summarising, Reframing.

MODULE 5: Understanding the Process and the Skills Involved

Session 1:  Mediation as a Creative Force – Being Present in Ambiguous Discourse.

Session 2:  The Process that underpins – More on the Chicago Model.

MODULE 6: The Mediation Process Under the Microscope.

Session 1:  Goldfish Bowl Demonstration with Q&A. Setting up Role Play Model.

Session 2:  Understanding the Process with Skills. Followed by trial Role Plays.

MODULE 7: Mediation and Real Conflict Cases.

Session 1:  Setting up role plays

Session 2:  Role play session.


The sessions will be divided into two parts:

7:00 – 8:15pm: Presentation on the Subject. (Please note that participants will be
expected to read lecture notes prior
to the evening).

8:15 – 8:30pm: Break.

8:30 – 9:45pm: Skills Training, Integration of Practice


There will be five basic layers of learning:

On line Modules: These will be available for home learning and provide a
overview of the material plus interactive exercises.

Lecture notes:  These are all within your Manual and provide an overview
of the material under discussion in the session. The first
part of each evening will expand on these notes.

E-Library: This will be available for anyone wishing to do further reading
On the subject.

Performance Methodology: The second part of the evening will focus on the
Integration and application of skills and concepts.

Practice Book/Learning Journal: This will be both a reflective journal and
Practice book.

Each participant is expected to carry out the tasks as and when they are stated in the Manual ( Please see section Headed: Dates of Completion). The course tutors are available to help with any queries or concerns.

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30 Nov

New Certified Mediation Training Course

Posted in Uncategorized on 30.11.11 by Merlyn

Drumcondra, Enniscorthy and Sligo Education Centre is implementing a new mediation training course. It is Certified by the Mediators Institute or Ireland and provides a generic training for those interested in learning the skills of a mediator.  Details are available from Drumcondra Education Centre Dublin.

Inter-personal conflict is something we all cope with, whether it be within our family or workplace.  This course will help participants increase their capacity to find better solutions.

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08 Nov

Singing with your children

Posted in Uncategorized on 08.11.11 by Merlyn

How many of you sing or dance with your children? Do you know every time you do this you are improving your child’s ability to learn?

Music activates part of our brains that we would not use otherwise and if you sing  dance and play music with your children you are giving them more than just a little while of fun.

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08 Nov

A long time since I last posted

Posted in Uncategorized on 08.11.11 by Merlyn

Over the last few months I have been working in Drumcondra Education Centre developing the first Mediation Training Course, accredited by the Mediators Institute of Ireland, for the education sector on Ireland. It will be run in three locations, Dublin , Sligo and Wexford and we hope to train individuals from other related areas, as well.

This work is aimed at increasing the capacity of professionals in the education sector to deal with conflict themselves and through this that we can make a difference in children’s lives. We live in very straightened times with resources for schools depleting all the time. Stresses and strains can spill over into disputes large and small. This course and the others that will follow will all aim at supporting an upskilling the front line staff working with and for children.

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