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Conflict Resolution Skills for Students in Secondary Schools

  Teaching young people to manage conflict efficiently, resolve conflict in a peaceful way, reduce incidents of violence and build healthy relationships. Resolving conflict without resorting to violence is symptomatic to a young person’s inability to handle confrontation. Youths learn to be aware of the potential for conflicts in human interactions, be able to identify a conflict situation, and deal with it calmly and constructively. Managing Conflict This is the process of ending a dispute and reaching an agreement that satisfies all parties involved. Learning to manage conflict situations in constructive ways without attacking the other person, no name calling, yelling, hitting, accusing or threatening. They learn to avoid clamming up because positive results can only be attained with two way communication. What is a Conflict? Conflict is a natural part of life. We cannot hide from it, we cannot wish it away or pretend that it is not happening. It occurs in families, friendships, schools, workplace, neighbourhoods and the society in general. It occurs when two or more people interact either as individuals or as part of a group. There is always potential for conflict in interactions. Conflict can be defined as a disagreement, argument or tension. A clash between individuals who perceive a threat to their needs, interests or concerns. A clash of interest, fight or to disagree with someone over opposite opinions. Causes of conflicts Causes of conflicts between students include disagreement between individuals or groups regarding ideas, interests, principles or values, limited resources, communication problems, rivalry between groups,  a youth who is impolite to others (such as competing with fellow young people or insulting opinions of others), rude, mean, teasing, jealousy, physical aggression and bullying. Conflict management styles Conflict is a natural part of life and can be resolved peacefully. You can develop awareness of your own unique responses to conflict. There are five conflict management styles. These are: avoiding – avoiding or withdrawing from a conflict. Accommodating – giving in. Competing – standing your ground. Compromising – both parties giving up some demands meeting somewhere in the middle. Collaborating – a combination of being assertive and cooperative. Those who work together with others to identify a solution that satisfies everyone’s concerns. Using inappropriate conflict styles can create more problems. It is not healthy to suppress emotions or feelings like anger, frustration and leaving conflict unresolved. (Introduce lessons on coping skills, assertive communication, emotional intelligence, problem solving and empathy). 5 ways to resolve conflict on your own
  1. Calm down. Control your emotions and behavior when angry or upset. Focus on the problem not the personalities. This will enable you calm down, appraise the situation objectively and deal with it positively. Communicate your feelings without threatening, fighting or placing blame. Be respectful. Respect differences. Identify and name your emotions guilty, jealous, and frustrated.
  2. Active listening. Listen carefully. Listen well to understand the perspectives and needs of the other person. Really listening to the other person and try to see the problem from their perspective. Listen without interrupting, listen and respond to the other person in a way that improves mutual understanding. Demonstrate concern, paraphrase to show understanding. Use non verbal cues which show understanding such as eye contact, leaning forward, nodding, brief verbal affirmations like ‘I see’ , ‘I know’ ‘sure’ ‘thank you’ or ‘I understand’.
  3. Talk about it. Address the real issue. Focus on the issues. Ask to know the real source of the problem. And deal with it directly. Understand the underlying needs, the behaviour that worries or challenges the other person. In many cases, challenging behaviour is the symptom of unmet needs, something hidden but shapes our responses or reactions.
  Use ‘I’ statements rather than you statements. Using effective needs statements will empower and energize others see a solution and behaviour in new imaginative ways. Use’ I statements’ to let others know what you need. ‘I feel hurt when….’ instead of ‘you caused me to…’ this comes off less accusatory.  
  1. Brainstorm solutions. Search for options together to solve the problem. Choose a solution acceptable to all involved.
  2. Take responsibility for your role in the conflict. Learn from it. Think of what you could have done differently and how you will handle the situation in future. Affirm, forgive and thank others.
  Peer mediation Peer/student mediators mediate between others. Student mediators work with their peers to resolve the disputes they cannot resolve themselves.   Conflict resolution activities The activities to make conflict resolution learning fun include role playing, games, creative writing and storytelling.

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