Too many of today’s adolescence face every day conflicts they do not know how to manage. They encounter issues that often involve jealousy, teasing and physical aggression. Violence and juvenile delinquency are symptoms of a young person’s inability to deal with these conflicts. Teaching young people how to manage their conflicts in a productive manner is one way to help reduce violent behavior.
Conflict resolution is about giving youth nonviolent tools to deal with conflicts that can lead to violent and self-destructive behavior. Conflict resolution involves teaching young people how to voice their opinions, express their interests and find a mutually acceptable solution between disputing parties. An important part of teaching conflict resolution is helping young people understand that conflicts happen all the time, and that with learned skills, conflicts can be dealt with in nonviolent ways.
Through public research and higher education input, programs that have the most success rate are those that integrate components that involve the basis of effective communication, problem solving processes, critical thinking and personal self-discipline and responsibility. With proper conflict resolutions principals, teachers, leaders and councilors will be able to:
- Manage their students’ behavior, not with coercion, but by stressing personal self-discipline and responsibility.
- Teach young people how to respond to daily conflicts without violence by implementing their learned skills of negotiation, consensus decision making and meditation.
- Play a hand in activating community involvement in violence prevention via community programs and services.
Effective conflict resolution strategies
Peer mediation: This approach of conflict resolution involves specially trained student mediators. These student mediators work directly with their peers to find a conflict solution. The peer mediation approach often replaces the traditional disciplinary actions of detention, suspension and expulsion by encouraging problem solving and thus, decreasing the need for teacher involvement. One New Mexico school reported having over 100 playground fights per month. This method of conflict resolution decreased the numbers by 90 percent, to less than 10 fights per month.
Process curriculum: This approach involves teaching the principals, foundation abilities and problem-solving processes of conflict resolution. This curriculum, which is modeled after the Harvard Negotiation Project, involves administrators, teachers and students learning how to use negotiation to resolve disputes and achieve goals that satisfy both sides. This method of conflict resolution resulted in a North Carolina middle school seeing a 97 percent decrease in out-of-school suspensions.
Peaceable classrooms: Integrating a conflict resolution curriculum into the daily management of the classroom, this approach to conflict resolution uses instructional methods of academic controversy and cooperative learning. This method of dealing with conflicts shows teachers how to practice cooperation and offer effective communication that result in a peaceful classroom. Students who learned this method displayed an 80 percent decrease in teacher conflict management. School principal involvement plunged to zero.
Peaceable School Approach: A conflict resolution management approach that integrates all three of the above principals. This method involves teaching all classroom teachers, principals, students, community members and crossing guards that the goal of a nonviolent society is realistic. This approach empowers students with conflict resolution strategies and skills to control their own behavior. Several multiethnic New York City schools reported a 71 percent decrease in physical classroom violence after learning the peaceable school approach to conflict resolution.
Today’s young people cannot be expected to utilize skills they do not have. Teaching adolescents effective conflict resolution principles and strategies modeled by adults will help make for a more peaceful, nonviolent environment for everyone.
Author: Divya Parekh (ACC, CPC, LL, MS) is an international career leadership coach, Head Career Coach at International Coach Academy, and CEO of The DP Group. She assists executives, professionals, coaches and students plan, develop and achieve their career and leadership goals. She has been recognized by Worldwide Who’s Who as ‘VIP of the Year’ for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in leadership coaching. She is founder of the 1/1/1 Leader Project. The project prides itself on being simple. Set a goal. Work towards achieving it. Give someone a smile. Be nice to another person. Make the world a little bit nicer. It’s free so get started today!