Ways to Empower Teens to Resolve Conflict

Youth conflict resolution works!

Youth conflict resolution is about teaching young people new ways to resolve disputes without resorting to violence, verbal or physical. Too many young people today are caught up in situations of teen conflict that they cannot manage – jealousy, teasing and bullying and outright aggression.

Conflict resolution education is an important component in a violence prevention and intervention program in schools and youth communities. The most successful programs seem to be those that offer a comprehensive approach to problem solving, teaching effective listening and communication skills, and critical and creative thinking with an emphasis on personal responsibility and self discipline.

Importance of Working Together

Parents and teachers need to work together to mutually reinforce the programs put in place to empower young people with the skills and processes of conflict resolution where teen conflict exists. Adults of course are the final authority, especially if the law is involved, and adults therefore need to model the peaceful resolution of conflicts in all area of their lives, including personal relationships. Context is important, and even in inner city schools where drug use and delinquency is a major problem, violence reduction programs have been successful when youth conflict resolution has been part of the curriculum.

Basic Steps to Resolve Conflict

Most programs follow a series of steps that include setting ground rules and agreeing to work together with no name-calling, blaming, yelling or interrupting. Good listening skills are stressed as the way to understanding the other person’s needs and point of view. Common interests are established and solutions are brainstormed where everyone gains something if possible. Negotiation to reach an acceptable compromise leads to an agreement which should be written down and checked on at intervals to make sure it still stands.

These basic steps can be established at home to resolve normal conflicts about homework and bedtime or at school to deal with aggression and violence. Schools and communities can offer youth conflict resolution training courses and peer mediation programs which prove highly successful in teaching teens to serve as mediators and resolve conflicts among their peers.

Learn from Success Stories

Many schools have adopted programs that incorporate conflict resolution into classroom teaching and throughout the school environment and communities also are providing mediation services and training for youth and adults.

Success stories abound;  led to the reduction of fights in an Albuquerque elementary school playground from “100 to 150 fights every month….to maybe 10.” A North Carolina middle school instituted conflict resolution education and after one school year, in-school suspensions decreased by 42% and out of school suspensions decreased from 40 incidents to 1.

Resources Make a Difference

Many programs are now available to show teachers how to integrate conflict resolution into the curriculum, classroom management and discipline practices. With an emphasis on cooperation, appreciation of diversity and effective communication, students learn how to use principled negotiation to achieve goals and resolve disputes.

Effective youth conflict resolution programs noticeably improve the general school culture by reducing the number of disruptive and violent incidents, decreasing the number of school absences provoked by fear of violence, reducing the number of suspensions and disciplinary actions, increasing the effective time for academic instruction during the day and building the confidence and self respect of the young people engaged in the programs.

Practical Guide with Strategies and Solutions

A useful guide for teenagers is Dr. Patricia Fioriello’s eguide, A Teen’s Guide to Resolving Conflict, which prepares teens with strategies and the sort of responses they can use to help resolve conflict in a positive manner.

Once teens embrace the concepts and develop the social and interpersonal skills of negotiation, compromise and self discipline they can generate effective solutions, learn to integrate feelings and actions and become empowered individuals with a powerful influence for good among their friends and community.

Comments

  1. lesley says

    This is great!! Sure this will help me handle conflicts common in teens like me…It will make me even encourage my friends how to handle same situations. Will tell them to visit your site.

  2. annette says

    I am a young mother of a teen ager. Hope he will listen to me and see your website. He have so many peers and really tired of teenagers like him who always push him around. I also learned from this to guide and support him. Cheers..

  3. Portia says

    I have a friend who have these kinds of issues all the time. It would help her deal with her troubles, and will make her realize that its normal to teenagers like us and not to feel so bad and eventually help manage her feelings. I will ask her to check on this site.

  4. reena says

    Yeah, I also have these kind of problems though trying to cope. Will try this three basic steps in dealing with conflicts also by listening to success stories. Thanks you very much to this blog.

  5. Dr. Patricia Fioriello says

    Reena, Conflict is difficult to deal with but you are on the right track. Try to follow easy steps when dealing with an issue and to always in that moment remember your way to solve it. Listening to success stories keeps us all on track and focused and able to remember that we can do it!!!

  6. Dr. Patricia Fioriello says

    Yes, please tell your friends to visit our site. We want to hear from high school students – what they are thinking and what topics they want us to write about. Glad that the article has encouraged you to talk to your friends about how to handle situations!

  7. Dr. Patricia Fioriello says

    We agree! Conflict resolution is the way to go. When teens learn how to approach and problem solve conflict, they learn a valuable life skill. Teens who manage and prevent conflict are given the opportunity to explore new relationships, experiences – opening up a new world of learning!

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