Conflict Management Activities

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Conflict is bound to happen in a school setting. In this lesson, we'll explore conflict management activities to help students understand how to manage conflict with peers.

Conflict in a School Setting

Students at every age have disagreements, differing opinions and conflicts about possessions and relationships. Avoiding conflict is not always feasible, nor is it recommended. People who constantly avoid conflict in their formative years can have trouble managing conflict later in life.

As a teacher, you are in a position to help students learn how to positively manage conflict through discussion and classroom activities. In this lesson, we'll explore a few specific activities that will help students learn how to minimize the negative outcomes of conflict.

Team Building Activities

Working on team building in your classroom prior to conflict can give students a solid foundation of respect that will help them manage conflicts in the future.

Model Building

Break students into groups of 4-6 people. Ask them to work together to assemble a toy boat using cheap materials like cardboard, popsicle sticks, tape, glue, and string or yarn. The goal of this project is to create a boat that really floats. Encourage the students to brainstorm and use discussion to determine the best solution to the 'problem.' A group project like this will teach students how to work together and use strategy to accomplish a goal. Afterward, when a conflict arises between students, you can remind them of boat project and the strategies they used to solve a problem together.

Meeting in the Middle

Diversity is a good thing! But sometimes it is important to find common ground. You can help students do this by breaking them into groups of two (don't let them choose their own partner). Put half of the students on one side of the room and half of the students on the other side of the room. Then, start making simple statements like:

  • I like ice cream.
  • I dress up for Halloween.
  • Reading is fun.
  • I once climbed a tree.
  • Saturday is my favorite day of the week.

Ask students to take a step toward their partners every time they agree with a statement. Eventually, all of the students will meet in the middle of the room. Be sure to stress that this game is not a race and there is no prize for the first team who meets in the middle. The ultimate goal is to make students understand that even though they are all different from each other, they all have things in common.

Dress Up

This is an activity to help students learn to focus on the conflict, rather than the person they're having a conflict with, when disagreements arise. This is accomplished through conditioning students to desensitize the person on the other end of a conflict.

Fill a box with a variety of costumes, hats and accessories like jewelry. Then have students break up in teams of two. Then have one person in each pair dress up in the goofiest clothing they can find. Next, they sit down with their teammate and have a serious conversation. No laughing; no bringing up the clothes; students should just have a conversation.By doing this, students are forced to focus on the conversation, rather than the person they're talking with. Then have the students switch roles so that both students have the chance to dress funny, and both students have the chance to talk to their dressed up partner.

When a real conflict does arise, if the students are willing they can dress up and have their conversation while both looking silly. It breaks some of the tension and provides some insight to the need to focus on the problem and not the person.

Communication Activities

Communication activities are a good way to teach students about respectful debate and active listening while equipping them with tools that can be used to manage conflicts.

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