We’ll let you in on a secret: conflict happens.
At home, in the workplace, at the gym – and school – nowhere is safe!
Conflict is a part of life, and not all conflict is ‘bad’; it doesn’t need to end with a big fight or argument. Understanding how to handle and navigate these scenarios when they arise is a vital life skill.
Whether it’s getting heated during a sports game or someone taking your stuff without asking, no matter how big, small, silly or essential – here are a few tips on handling conflict like a pro.
5 Tips for Successfully Navigate Conflict at School
Before diving in, it’s worth knowing that different things work for different people.
While you read through this list, it’s okay if it’s not something you would do! But try to stay open-minded – you never know what will help in different situations.
Let’s dive in:
- Before reacting, hit PAUSE!
It’s easy to get heated over silly things, especially if you’re having a bad day.
Many things influence our mood, and our mood usually dictates how we respond. Something that wouldn’t bother us usually might feel huge on a day when we’ve forgotten breakfast, had an argument with our parents, or failed a test.
So, whether it’s you reacting to a situation or another person – hit PAUSE – give yourself a moment to level up your awareness on why this might be getting to you right now.
- Ask yourself: How big is this problem?
Ask yourself how big is this problem or situation really? And is my reaction to it proportionate?
Flying off the handle and screaming because someone accidentally knocked you or a friend is way out of proportion for the scenario.
Consider what would be appropriate, and that’s the point you start from.
MANAGING CONFLICT ACTIVITY: This is an excellent exercise to consider before facing conflict. Think of all the scenarios that might cause conflict or trigger you in school.
Write down an out-of-proportion reaction and what an appropriate one would look like.
How would you want someone to respond to you?
- Set clear boundaries and expectations.
If a conflict arises, be clear about how you will or won’t engage with it. It’s okay to set firm boundaries and act on them if someone continually violates them.
To set a boundary, think about how you want to be treated – what you are prepared to put up with and what you are not.
Also, think about what you want to happen or what you will do if someone continually breaks your boundary during the conflict. For example, during a conflict, you probably don’t want to be shouted at, and if you’ve told someone this, but they keep raising their voice, it’s okay to call time on the situation and tell them you’ll only talk when they stop shouting.
MANAGING CONFLICT ACTIVITY: Think about the best ways you want to be treated by your peers and others around you – what does that look, sound, and feel like?
How can you communicate this to others in positive ways before conflict arises?
Write down your ideas and share them with the people close to you.
- Walk away when you need to.
It can be the hardest thing to do when conflict arises, and you feel wronged, unheard, or misunderstood somehow – or worse, when someone is actively trying to get you worked up! But it can also be an important way to manage conflict.
Walking away isn’t about weakness or ‘losing’ – it’s about putting all the tips above into practice, knowing that sometimes conflict isn’t worth the drama and energy.
- Seek help and support.
Conflicts can take over your mental energy and sense of wellness if you let them drag on for too long. We often think we have to manage everything ourselves, but if you’re continually worrying about a particular situation or experience, reach out to those who can help.
Whether your friends, teachers, parents, or school counselors – they’re all here to help. Even just talking through it aloud with a neutral party can help you figure out how you might resolve things.
Don’t suffer in silence; make sure you reach out, no matter what.
Some Helpful Resources
To help you learn more about managing conflict, now or in the future, we’ve compiled a few handy resources:
- Go Ask Alice!: Geared at young adults, this question and answer website contains an extensive database of questions about various concerns surrounding emotional health. goaskalice.columbia.edu
- Girls Health.Gov: This website’s “Your Feelings” section offers guidance to teenage girls on recognizing problems, getting help, and talking to parents. http://girlshealth.gov/feelings/index.html
- Jed Foundation: Promoting emotional health and preventing suicide among college students, this website provides an online resource center: http://www.jedfoundation.org/students
We know not every conflict can be handled smoothly. If you’re experiencing any form of bullying or harassment – always speak with a trusted adult or get a friend to help you reach out.
It doesn’t matter how ‘silly’ you think it is; if it’s making you feel uncomfortable, worried, or scared, speak up sooner rather than later so you can get the support you need.