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Conflict Management in the Classroom

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Oct 14, 2011

Conflict Resolution Skills for Students

Students will inevitably have conflicts with one another from time to time, and it is important for them to have appropriate skills for resolving conflicts and problems on their own.

Considerations

  • Introduce conflict resolution skills to the students and incorporate practicing them into your classroom.
  • Realize that for some students, this is their only exposure to properly resolving a conflict.
  • Help students see personal value in properly resolving a conflict. (How does it benefit me? How does it make my life easier?)
  • Provide your students with the ability to solve their problems so that they can build confidence and establish positive relationships with others.
  • Show students that there are systematic ways of resolving conflicts on their own, allowing them to request the help of an adult only when necessary.
  • Remember that many of these conflicts occur during recess, at lunch, after school, or on the bus.
  • Allow students to express their frustrations and feelings after they have resolved a conflict, at an appropriate time. Review your conflict resolution strategies often.
  • Post steps for conflict resolution in your classroom. Refer to them and review them often.
  • Practice through role-play.
  • Discuss the consequences of different behaviors. Help students understand that resolution is the easiest solution.
  • Use conflict resolution slips.

Process

Establish a systematic and easy-to-follow approach to conflict resolution for your students. Review this approach with them several times until they are comfortable following through with it. The approach may include the following steps:

  • Remain calm, don’t react. Take a couple of deep breaths, then count to 10.
  • Step back and assess. Ask yourself what is happening, and if it is really a big deal. If not, let it go and walk away.
  • Talk, compromise, resolve. If the situation is important, and walking away won’t solve the problem, talk to the other person calmly about what has happened. See if the two of you can come up with a compromise or a solution.
  • Seek peer assistance. If working directly with the other person doesn’t result in a compromise or solution, seek out a respected peer or an older student who can help the two of you discuss the problem and resolve it.
  • Seek an adult's help. If none of these steps works for you, find an adult to help resolve the problem—but explore all other alternatives first.

Practice

In order for students to successfully resolve a conflict without adult intervention, they must practice the skills that they will need when a conflict arises.

Considerations

  • Use a variety of activities to help your students practice conflict resolution skills:
    • Role-play
    • Writing prompts
    • Creating plays for younger students
    • Comic strips
  • Develop scenarios to use in practicing conflict resolution skills with your students. Suggestions for scenarios include the following:
    • A classmate yells, “That’s my ball! Drop it now!” as you pick up a ball that has been kicked in your direction, interrupting your hopscotch game. All you were going to do is return the ball so you could finish your own game, but now you are angry for being yelled at for nothing.
    • During art class, the teacher says that there are not enough paintbrushes and that pairs of students have to share. You and your partner have to choose who goes first, but you already have your poster idea ready to go and you have been waiting all week for art class.
    • On the playground before school starts, you accidentally step on a classmate’s foot. The classmate gets angry and yells, “I’m going to beat you up after school!”
    • You have forgotten to bring your completed homework to school, even though it’s finished and sitting on your desk at home. It’s recess, and you want to go outside to play, but your teacher says you have to go to recess detention, because you didn’t bring your assignments to school. You are given a hall pass to walk to detention, but you are frustrated, because you know you did your work on time.
    • During math class, you get permission to get up to throw a piece of paper in the trash. When you return to your desk, you find that a classmate has taken your pen and won’t give it back.
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