Conflict resolution is really, really important in life but it’s not something that everybody learns. Furthermore, conflict resolution for teens can be tricky because teenage conflicts can be tricky sometimes.
Here’s some helpful information about conflict among teenagers, how to resolve teenage conflicts, and some great tips for conflict resolution for teens.
Why Does Teenage Conflict Occur?
Conflict can occur in many areas of a teen’s life, and some teenagers are more confrontation than others, and some are put into these types of situations more often than others.
Being assertive means the potential to get into more confrontations, but a lack of assertiveness can also lead to confrontations down the road.
Learning conflict resolution techniques for teenagers can help to resolve conflicts when they occur, but these same techniques can also help to prevent the conflict before it escalates.
It’s not just about knowing how to deal with conflict as a teenager, but also how to speak your mind, express yourself, set boundaries, and be assertive without causing conflicts.
Sometimes, setting boundaries or similar things will result in conflicts, and sometimes that’s unavoidable, and its not your fault if someone decides to escalate to a conflict – and these techniques can help to minimize it while ensuring that you’re taking care of yourself.
9 Conflict Resolution Skills for Teens
Here are skills that will help with conflict resolution for teens. You won’t necessarily need to use every single one of these skills for every single conflict, so knowing when to employ certain skills or tools is a skill in and of itself. Start to be mindful of this, come back here every now and then to refresh your memory, and you’ll be all set.
1. Taking a Step Back from Conflict
Some people like to dive right into the conflict and tackle it in the heat of the moment, but that’s not always a good idea, especially if one of the people is someone who likes to step back and think things over first.
While some people like to just get it over with, it’s not always wise to sort out teenage conflicts when tempers are still flaring.
By taking a step back, going to another room, or by giving yourself five or ten minutes, sometimes that’s all it takes to calm down enough to have a much more productive conversation.
If someone else is a part of the conflict and they don’t like to take a bit of time, it can be difficult, since they might keep engaging and trying to escalate. You can tell them that you want to take even just a few minutes to calm yourself down and think about things a bit, and if they can’t respect that, it’s probably not a conflict that can be resolved at that time.
2. Know Your Conflict Resolution Style
This is a follow-up to the first point, where we touched on how some people prefer to try to resolve things instantly and other people do better if they take some time to reflect and think and collect their thoughts first.
You should take some time to think back about past conflicts in your life and try to determine your style of conflict resolution. Do you like to deal with it immediately, even if you’re kind of heated and angry? Do you think that’s the best way to go about it, and how has that worked for you in the past?
On the other hand, perhaps you react in one way to conflict and you would like to react differently, and knowing what works best for you will give you something to strive for. Having this framework in place will help you with all sorts of conflicts in your life, just this little bit of mindfulness can go a long way in achieving better outcomes for yourself and for the people you’re in a conflict with.
3. Really Hear What They’re Saying, Listen to Understanding
Listening to understand means that you’re putting in the effort to understand what they’re saying to you and to take things in the way they mean them, even if they don’t describe everything perfectly.
If they say something in a way where you could either acknowledge that you get what they meant, or try to win an argument/debate on some technicality, which option is going to help you move forward in the conflict?
If you listen to someone and try to understand what they’re saying, to be able to repeat it back to them in a way they’d agree with, and with the purpose of solving a problem, you’ll have much better results than someone who listens with the intent of trying to poke holes in the other person’s statements.
In some cases, you do need to poke holes in what someone is saying, but for the purpose of solving a teenage conflict, you need to know where they’re coming from.
4. Determine If You Can Trust Them
Related: Why do teens lie?
Sometimes, people will lie, and that can complicate things, but if you can trust that the person you’re arguing with then point number 3 gets a lot easier.
If you have the goal, as outlined above, of trying to understand what someone is saying instead of trying to poke holes in what they’re saying or to catch them slipping, it can make things a lot more productive unless they’re actually lying.
If they’re lying, then you actually do need to be able to catch the discrepancies in what they’re saying, or be able to tell that they’re being dishonest with you in order to adjust your own actions accordingly.
If someone is lying to you or being dishonest, that really changes the dynamic of the conflict resolution and it might be time to take a step back and circle around again later. You need to be operating in the same reality as them, with the same set of facts.
It’s possible that they’re wrong and not lying, but they might not be open to having their mind changed in that moment, or being proven wrong. This is an example of how you may need to draw upon multiple conflict resolution skills at once to fit the specific situation that you’re dealing with.
5. Share How You’re Feeling
Sharing how you’re feeling isn’t always easy, especially if you weren’t raised to be open about that sort of thing or when you’re a teenager and your feelings can be all over the place.
This is a good way to just be a bit vulnerable to the person you’re in conflict with, and it can put them at ease that you’re upfront and honest about what you’re feeling. It can also help them to contextualize your behavior and to better understand why you’re acting the way you are.
It can be as simple as stating “I feel anger right now.” or more detailed like “It makes me feel angry when you tell me that I’m…” or “It feels like you aren’t understanding what I’m saying and that makes me frustrated.”
It’s also important to remember that just because you express your feelings, that doesn’t mean the other person is now suddenly responsible for your feelings. Telling them how you feel doesn’t mean that all of a sudden they need to do anything differently or to adjust themselves based on that feeling, it just means that you want to make them aware of how you’re feeling.
If there is something you need them to do differently, make sure you express that as well, for example these conflict resolution scenarios for teenagers…
“I feel frustrated when you talk over me, so I need you to give me a chance to speak and please hold off until I’m done. Then, I will listen to you without interrupting, too. Let’s take turns and figure this out.”
“It makes me angry when you’re on your phone when I’m trying to tell you something. I’m going to go calm down for half an hour, and then I want to come back and continue this conversation, and I need you to put your phone down when I get back.”
Understanding your feelings and what they mean is essential in communicating that to the person you’re in conflict with.
6. Find Common Ground
Before you start digging into all of the things that you disagree with or that bother you about the person or whatever your conflict is about, it can be really helpful to start by figuring out the things that you agree with them on.
By finding common ground, you can add more stability to the conflict, by giving it a stronger foundation to build upon. If you have some key things you can agree on with them, then you’ll have a place to circle back to if the conflict starts getting really difficult.
These areas of common ground will remind everyone in the conflict that you have plenty of things in common and that you’re in agreement about.
If you’re arguing with someone and you feel like they don’t understand your point of view at all, or they’re coming at you aggressively, it can put you on your heels and make you feel more defensive in the interaction.
7. Don’t Hit Below The Belt
This one is really, really important.
If you’re in a teenage conflict with somebody and they start making personal attacks at you, how are you going to handle that? Are you going to go ballistic? Maybe not. But is it going to definitely change the tone of the conflict resolution for teens either way, even if you aren’t impacted by it too much.
Even if someone starts attacking you below the belt, in other words being mean, making personal attacks, or just trying to egg you on or frustrate you, if you can avoid lobbing the same attacks back at them, you’ll be in a better position.
It can feel really good to jump in and start slinging mud with them, but it’s super unproductive if the goal is to actually resolve a conflict among teens, or anyone, for that matter.
8. Ask Questions
Ask questions, and to add-on to the 3rd point back near the top of this page, listen to the answer with the intent of understand what they’re getting at.
9. Embrace The Conflict Resolution for Teens Process
Whether you enjoy and thrive in conflict, or you’re someone who is much more conflict-avoidant, it’s really helpful if you can embrace the process of resolving a conflict.
Common Questions About Conflict Resolution for Teens
What is conflict resolution skills?
Conflict resolution skills is a blanket term that describes all of the different ways that one can mindfully solve a conflict. Solving a conflict doesn’t mean just ending the confrontation or deescalating, it means actually resolving the core issue, not running from it or avoiding it.
It’s about having the skills and techniques that are necessary to engage in higher-stress situations like an active conflict with somebody, or an argument, or a debate, and being able to navigate it in a way that leads to a positive outcome.
How are conflict resolution skills for youth different?
Conflict resolution skills for youth are similar to the ones you’d use as an adult, in fact being an adult doesn’t mean someone has any skills at all in this area. There are so many adults who have worse conflict resolution skills than many youth have.
Conflict resolution among teens can be super productive, and conflict resolution for teachers and students can also be very valuable in the classroom. Not all teachers are going to be open to this or have the maturity, but being approached respectfully by a student about a conflict is usually something that a teacher will be open to.
Which conflict resolution technique is best for teenagers?
Are common conflict resolution strategies good enough?
These conflict resolution techniques for teenagers should help you and your loved ones in overcoming a lot of misunderstandings, conflicts, and other types of issues that you may encounter.
You can use a conflict resolution technique for teens at home with your family, with your friends, and at school.
You can even employ these if you’re upset with a teacher or other authority figure, but please recognize that just because someone is older, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to have conflict resolution skills so stick to what you know, trust yourself, and do your best to navigate.
When you get into a conflict with someone who is good at conflict resolution for teens, then it can be a super healthy situation where both of you employ your skills. Having conflict with someone who knows how to engage in it in a healthy way can be so productive, and even interesting and enjoyable. It’s a different story when you’re dealing with somebody who lacks these skills, though.
You can even start with conflict resolution skills for kids if you have younger people in your home or family. Teaching these skills to kids will equip them for a lifetime of problem solving and resolving conflicts.