Without conflict-resolution skills, students can fall prey to toxic stress as they get older, according to Murrell. Toxic stress is stress that is so severe because of childhood trauma that it leads to “physical health issues that manifest later in life because of stress that is strong, frequent, and prolonged in the absence of protective relationships,” she said.

In a study of more than 17,000 people conducted in the mid-1990s by the Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, children with four or more adverse childhood experiences, such as an incarcerated parent, neglect, or physical abuse, “were much more likely to have hepatitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis), depression, auto-immune diseases, and one or more sexually-transmitted diseases,”  Murrell said.

“We have a short time to reach both kids and parents,” Murrell said. “As children enter middle childhood, they tend to become more interested in other kinds of play, such as rule-based games. They become less influenced by what adults think or want. By adolescence, many kids will do the opposite of what an adult expects or wants, just to test boundaries. That makes introducing new concepts, including conflict-resolution tactics, learning approaches, and foods early important.“

“Children leave Perea confident and knowing they have a voice in the world,” Norman said. “Parents leave knowing the same.”