Conflict Resolution Strategies for Middle School Youth

ARISE Blog, Conflict Resolution Strategies for Middle School Youth

Middle school is a time of immense growth and development and at the same time emotional turmoil in which there are peer conflicts, conflict with adults and conflicts with themselves. Here are strategies to share to help middle school at risk youth develop conflict resolution skills.


Listening :  We have two ears and one mouth. You listen to hear and gain understanding.

 Conflict is normal and can escalate

Conflict is normal and can escalate:  We all have our  own thoughts, cultures and ideas which may be different from other peoples. This may cause conflicts and it is important to learn ways that will escalate conflict making it destructive and ways to reduce conflict making it constructive.

Stop and breathe to calm down

Stop and Breathe to calm down: When one is in a conflict, the brain is controlled by the amygdala, the brain’s safety alarm system. Youth need to learn to calm down and be distanced from the conflict before responding. Taking deep breaths can calm down.

Anger is a secondary emotion

Anger is a secondary emotion: When they learn the emotion underlying the conflict, they are more able to respond constructively. For example, frustration or feelings of being disrespected can create anger and then conflict.

Think about the conflict situation that occurred

 Think about the conflict situation that occurred: Ask questions about the conflict, your reactions to it and how it could have been different resulting in different results.  

Build positive nonverbal language skills

 Build positive nonverbal language skills: People hear what we say, but also see our nonverbal gestures. Your body language gives a lot of meaning to what you are saying. This misinterpretation can cause conflict.

Using “I“ instead of “You”

 Using “I“  instead of “You” :  Doing that avoids the blame game. By saying: I feel disrespected when you say or do …and I would appreciate it if you would… deescalates the situation. You are not blaming. Blaming causes the other person to come back and defend and the conflict escalates.

Learn to Question

 Learn to Question: Asking questions that clarify the conflict, so it is easier to understand. You learn the others’ point of view. If you don’t understand what the person is saying, this can result in the conflict not being resolved well.


 Journaling Let the youth write about it: Writing makes things clearer. Doing this makes things more easily understood and you get it off your mind. Doing this can calm a person.

Set your own boundaries

Set your own boundaries: We all have anger buttons. You need to tell people what ticks you off and ask someone not to do that. It is ok to tell people your boundaries in a calm manner.  This is not rude.

You don’t like everyone, and everyone does not have to like you

 You don’t like everyone, and everyone does not have to like you: You pick your friends because they are like you. Others may not be like you, but they deserve respect. Conflict is about the circumstances occurring and not the individual.

You can only control yourself

 You can only control yourself: Teens often seek unhealthy ways to gain control in situations and feelings. Teach teens that the only thing they can control is themselves.

Dealing with conflict

Dealing with conflict: - Four things to work out (a. what is the conflict, b. brainstorm solutions, c. evaluate each solution, d. choose the solution that is a win-win situation for both).

To View ARISE Life Skills lessons on Dealing with anger violence and conflict view the ARISE Life Skills for Middle School – Violence and Conflict or get the whole ARISE Life Skills for Middle School Series: