Teaching the art of conflict resolution to teens will enable them to work out issues and problems in a positive and proactive manner. Although challenging at times, the stronger the skills -- and the sooner a teen learns them -- the more successful she'll be overall. To ensure that your teen knows and practices positive conflict resolution instead of engaging in negative options that may even involve violence, provide guidance and support to help your teen understand how to resolve problems.
Explore the nature of conflict with your teenager. Generally, conflicts erupt when two or more parties have specific needs, wants or ideas that conflict with other people. Although conflict can have negative results, if people handle it correctly, it can also have positive results, says the National Crime Prevention Council. By avoiding violence and acting respectfully, conflict resolution can be an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings, hear other perspectives and work cooperatively toward a mutually acceptable agreement.
Discuss the importance of controlling anger to facilitate positive conflict resolution, suggests the Kids Health in the Classroom website. If your teen allows emotions to take over and expresses anger in an uncontrolled or unproductive manner, positive conflict resolution may not be possible. Instead, urge your teenager to breathe deeply, count to 10, take a short walk and then revisit the situation to work it out positively.
Present ground rules of respect to enable positive conflict resolution, suggests the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center. People involved in the conflict should avoid personal attacks on others, including swearing, name-calling, interrupting, shouting and blaming. Conversely, all parties should maintain self-control during communication.
Mention effective ways to communicate feelings and work toward resolution. By making “I statements,” teenagers can state a feeling without blaming or inciting a defensive reaction from others, advises the CFR Center for Resolution. An effective “I statement” could be, “I feel angry when you borrow my clothes without asking. I want you to ask before you wear my clothes.”
Spend time allowing all parties to communicate personal thoughts and ideas regarding the issue. Each party must have time to speak without interruption. Everyone should also have time to ask questions to clarify points to ensure that no misunderstandings occur. This communication may be difficult for many teens, especially if they feel disrespected and angry. Adults may need to facilitate this process to help teenagers maintain control and act respectfully.
Proceed to the stage of discussing possible solutions with all parties involved. With an understanding of everyone’s personal perspective regarding the situation, encourage discussion of compromise solutions that would be acceptable for everyone. The brainstorming process may involve a discussion of a myriad of options as the parties analyze each option. By keeping this process positive and productive, it’s possible to reach a consensus.
Settle on one solution that everyone accepts. Once the parties agree, they might shake hands or they could even sign a brief written statement that indicates agreement.