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Conflict Resolution


What is conflict resolution?

Sometimes we all get pretty angry. We may feel that something is unfair, something has been taken or broken that we value, someone is being mean, we're not getting a fair share, etc.

So what do we do? Well, we could throw a huge tantrum, get really upset, be mean to everybody etc. Would any of these things solve the problem? I don't think so! Well, what could you do?

Conflict Resolution

Try to sort things out so that everyone gets a fair go and something of what they want. There are 4 things that you need to do.
  • 1. Try to understand
  • 2. Avoid making things worse
  • 3. Work together
  • 4. Find a solution
1. Try to Understand.
Everyone involved needs to understand what the disagreement/argument (conflict) is about. To do this, everyone needs to:
  • say what they feel about it (without interruptions).
  • listen to what other people have to say about their feelings (without interrupting them).
  • try to put themselves in the other person's shoes
  • try to understand their point of view.
2. Avoid making things worse.
When we get angry or upset it can be very ease to keep the argument going. So, to avoid making things worse;
  • don't use put-downs.
  • avoid being mean, using nasty remarks that can hurt other people's feelings.
  • avoid using personal remarks about a person's looks, gender or use past events.
  • avoid screaming and shouting.
  • don't fight, hit, kick, push or any kind of physical resolve towards the other person's body.
3. Work together.
Working together means just that. It doesn't mean to just stop arguing and then trying to impose your will on the other person.

Try using "I" statements, like: "I feel hurt when..." "I need to feel or be..." "I hear what you are saying, but I feel..."
  • Say what you feel without blaming the other person, eg. "I feel sad when you shout" is better to say than "Your shouting makes me feel sad."
  • Take turns at speaking. You might even want to decide on a time limit for each person to speak before you get started. That way everybody gets the same chance to say what he or she wants.
  • Talk quietly. It's hard to keep your voice down when you feel upset, but a quiet firm voice is far better than someone shouting. A loud nasty voice makes everyone upset and unwilling to listen.
  • Write down what you see as the problem and then read what the other person has written.
  • Do some active listening (show the person that you are listening) by:

    • 1. looking at them, to show that you are giving your full attention. Don't overdo it though. Staring hard at someone makes that person feel uncomfortable.

    • 2. making 'listening noises' (but not interrupting) You know the sort of thing - "Uh huh", saying "yes" or "no" in the right places.

    • 3. repeating what you heard. When they've finished, say what you think you've heard them say, eg. "So, your problem is that I haven't tidied my part of our room?" Once you have listened to each other and found what the problem is, then you need to look for a solution.
4. Find a Solution.
Try brainstorming together to think of ways in which you could resolve the conflict. Think of as many solutions as you can, even if they seem silly at first. Have someone write down your ideas or suggest ways of making your ideas work so that you can resolve the conflict.

Possible outcomes

WIN - WIN: when both of you are pleased with what you have worked out.

WIN - LOSE: when one side is happy because they got what they wanted and the other is sad because they didn't get what they wanted.

LOSE - LOSE: when neither side is happy because nobody got what they wanted (you know the sort of thing, when mum or dad step in and say that no-one gets anything, because you can't work out your problem!)


Which do you think is the best outcome?

Win/Win is the best because everyone gets something. But, you will need to be very good at these conflict-solving skills so that each gets something that he/she wanted. When you have come to a solution that both of you can agree with, then you have to be responsible for carrying it out.

If things don’t work out then you need to go through the whole process again to see how it could be improved. Conflict resolution is not easy. It takes everyone involved to work together willingly and to accept and carry out what has been decided.

Parents, teachers and counsellors can all help you to learn the skills for resolving conflict and become a more confident, responsible and independent person

Remember to...
  • Think about the problem.
  • Say what you feel.
  • Listen to the other person.
  • Brainstorm solutions.
  • Decide what each one will do.
  • Stick to what you have decided.
  • Talk again if the solution is not working.
Click here to download a 4 page PDf document on 'How Children Can Learn to Resolve Conflict'.