Brainstorming involves freeing your thinking. It's about creating and dreaming up different options. When people are engaged in a conflict, sometimes they believe there's only one way for it to turn out. But most often, there are many options you can choose from -- if you're creative enough to come up with the options in the first place. The key is not to get stuck in one way of thinking.
When you're brainstorming, the idea is to come up with as many different ideas as possible. Be outrageous! It doesn't matter whether the ideas are silly. During the brainstorming session, no one is allowed to say anything negative about any of the ideas. Just come up with as many as possible. At the end you can evaluate the options and decide which one you want to choose.
You can practice this brainstorming approach on some imaginary situations. Then you'll be ready to use the approach when you're in the middle of a conflict. Some imaginary situations: How can you make friends at a new school? What can you do if you want to go to one movie and your friend wants to go to another one? What can you do to help find a lost puppy? What can you do to help a neighbor who is an older adult and has some trouble moving and walking? How can you cheer up a friend who has had a bad day? What can you do to get better grades in school?
To practice the brainstorming approach, everyone sits in a circle. State the problem. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible for solving the problem. One person can write down all the ideas generated. Hand the first person in the circle a magazine. The person should open the magazine to the first two-page spread. The idea in this brainstorming approach is to use something you see on the pages -- a word or a picture -- to spark an idea for solving the problem. Each person has one minute. Then they pass the magazine to the person beside them, who flips to the next two-page spread and has one minute to come up with another idea. Keep going around the circle.
For example, let's say a group is brainstorming ways to get better grades in school. The first two-page spread in the magazine has a photo of a house, so the person suggests spending more time at home studying. The next two-page spread has an ad for the "McMichael Gallery," so the person suggests asking his Uncle Michael for help with his math. The third two-page spread has the word "highway" on it, which reminds the person that they could do some extra reading on the bus on the way home from school.
When the brainstorming session is finished, you can evaluate each option generated -- what are the strengths and weaknesses of each option? -- to choose the best one or ones.