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Conflicts take place in many areas of human activity and often arise very early in life. It therefore is important for children to be taught the strategies available to avoid the escalation of conflict and to look for a positive outcome. Conflict resolution activities for children are an important tool in helping them to deal with conflict resolution in school and in family life, and it can help them develop strategies to deal with the conflicts that they will encounter throughout their lives. The different types of conflict resolution activities include role playing that permits children to rehearse their approach to conflict using practical situations and allows them to use strategies such as compromise and collaboration.
Conflict resolution activities proceed by outlining a conflict situation and suggesting possible approaches to the problem. The most aggressive, competitive approach might not always achieve the best outcome, and children should therefore be encouraged to consider the merits of compromise or collaboration with their opponent. Conflict resolution activities might proceed by asking the children for suggestions about the best ways to achieve a resolution or by role playing that involves individuals or teams in negotiating the resolution of the conflict. The outcome of role playing might then lead to further feedback that can highlight mistakes made in the negotiation of the problem and suggestions for improvement.
Children can be encouraged to discuss how and why conflict arises and gain an insight into the reasons why conflict is inevitable when people are involved in pursuing their own goals in life. After gaining an understanding of why conflict arises, children will be in a better position to see that the opponent in a conflict should not be seen as an enemy but as another person striving to achieve a desired outcome. This is a basis for understanding the need to take into account the other person's goals in working out a solution. Conflict resolution activities can reinforce this teaching by assigning set goals to two groups of children and challenging them to work out a resolution of the conflict that allows both sides to achieve most of their objectives.
Another thing that children can be taught is that different conflict resolution strategies might be appropriate in different situations. Collaboration might be the best strategy where a level of trust can be built up between the parties or when the conflict involves important issues for third parties. It can be practiced by conflict resolution activities that deal with situations in which other people's needs must be taken into consideration. In some situations, when the issue is not very important to a person or when collaboration has not been successful, compromise might be the best solution. Conflict resolution activities might be designed to reflect this type of situation.
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