Problems in Early Adolescence: Conflict Resolution in Peer Relationships

Problems in Early Adolescence: Conflict Resolution in Peer Relationships

By Banafsha

Problems in Early Adolescence: Conflict Resolution in Peer Relationships


What is Peer Conflict? 

The essential components of children's and adolescents' peer relationships are peer conflict and its resolution. The tactics used and chosen during conflicts with peers have both favorable and unfavorable effects on how people behave in social and emotional situations and in their subsequent relationships. 


Peer conflict is the term used to describe when peers or groups of friends have differences or hostilities towards each other. This type of conflict involves individuals with similar levels of power, and it's not something that is premeditated. It happens sporadically and doesn't necessarily involve physical harm or serious consequences. Those involved in peer conflict aren't necessarily trying to gain power or attention. However, it's important to note that peer conflict has the potential to escalate into more serious forms of violence.


Peer conflict occurs when two classmates, Rahul and Kuldeep, have a heated disagreement about a project they're working on together. They both have equal say in the project, and their disagreement leads to tension between them. This conflict wasn't planned; it just happened due to differences in their opinions on how to approach the project. Despite not seeking attention or power, if the conflict continues to escalate, it could potentially lead to a more intense argument or even physical altercations if not addressed and resolved.


Peer relationships are crucial for children's social and emotional development during middle childhood and adolescence. As they enter late adolescence and the beginning of adulthood, children and adolescents learn critical social and communication skills from their peers.


Peer conflict is not always a bad thing; conflict and disagreement are inevitable parts of life, and adolescents and children need to learn how to deal with them. However, when children and adolescents lack the social skills needed to handle their frustrations, peer conflict may cause serious mental and physical harm and even trigger aggressive behaviors.


In the past, many adults have tried to prevent or mediate youngster fights because they saw them as undesirable. Peer conflict may, nevertheless, benefit children's growth, according to recent perception and research. Instead of resolving conflicts through adult involvement, educators are starting to focus on assisting children in developing conflict resolution methods by teaching them specific social skills (Ramsey, 1991). Parents can concentrate on assisting their children in learning these techniques and skills.


The context of children's fights changes when an adult is present. When an adult is not present, children take charge of their relationships and come up with their own solutions more frequently (Laursen & Hartup, 1989). When an adult is present, children's fights frequently become more violent (Killen & Turiel, 1991). Adults occasionally make mistakes, are inconsistent, or impose biased ideas when they offer solutions. This bias and inconsistency are particularly evident in how parents handle conflicts between their own children.


We must keep in mind that peer conflict contributes to children's development and represents an important form of social interaction. It is through conflicts that children and young people develop the necessary social and emotional skills to face future difficulties in adult life.


Let us look at a few examples in which children your age have gotten into a fight: 


  • Together, Raj and Priya are completing a group project. They each have a different perspective on how to deliver their subject. As a result, there are disagreements and tensions within the group as they try to decide how to proceed with the project. The tension between them gets so high that they miss the deadline of the project, make their groups mates mad, and end up not speaking with each other again. Mr. Thomas, their project counselor, comes to know about this matter and decides to interfere and resolve it. What are your thoughts on this? How should Mr. Thomas proceed? Where did Raj and Priya go wrong? Why? 

  • Riya, a student known for her artistic talents, is often teased by a group of students who call her names and make fun of her interests. This creates a conflict between Riya and the students teasing her, causing emotional distress. Who do you think is at fault here? Why? What would you do if you were in Riya’s situation?  

  • An upcoming school event requires the selection of class representatives. Maya and Anushka both want to be the class monitor. Their desire for the leadership role leads to disagreements and competition between the two friends. What do you suggest they both should do to resolve this conflict? Why? 

  • How to Resolve Peer Conflict in School  


    When the word “conflict” is brought up in the context of school, “bully” is the first thing that often comes to mind.  The most common and well-known causes of student conflict are tormentors, but tension can also arise from other sources. 


    Conflict, when handled well, may be productive. Students who disagree learn how to collaborate, obtain fresh perspectives, reevaluate their prior beliefs, and develop stronger relationships with each other.  Conflict resolution skills for children should be a key educational priority, nevertheless, to prevent conflicts from turning into destructive incidents.  


    These skills will serve students well throughout their lives. The first step in helping students master these skills is understanding their emotions and help them see how feelings can affect the outcome of a quarrel. Students who learn to control their emotions can resolve squabbles before they deteriorate. 


    Let us have a look at these ways towards solving a conflict with our peers and schoolmates: 


    1. How big is my problem?: To understand the different sizes of the problems, is the first step you need to take in resolving any conflict. Take a moment and thing about how big the problem is, and how it affects your emotions and your relationship with your other friend. If the problem is tiny, let it go and save your breath! 


    1. Speak with the person in private: Respect the privacy of people involving the conflict and discuss it in a private place. Try to talk it out amongst yourselves and solve it within. If needed, ask for help only from a professional or trusted adult. 


    1. A pathway to peace: See if you can make peace with your friend and understand their view point. Some conflicts are nothing but a simple misunderstanding. Listen closely to what other persons involved in the conflict have to say. Try to examine different angles and then decide on what action to be taken. Make peace and get along as much as possible. 


    1. Be mindful of your body language: Make sure you are speaking with a calm voice and non-defensive posture. Be welcoming and let the person know that you are ready to listen to what they have to say on the issue. Try not to judge or act like the mastermind in the argument. Respect everyone’s opinion and share your thoughts on the matter in your turn. 


    1. Empathize: Sometimes the problem might not be what it sounds to be, and rather, it might have roots somewhere else. Many students complain about another party trying to pick a fight with them when they had nothing to do with them to begin with. In this case, try to see why the other person is doing so. Maybe all they need is someone to speak with. If you are not able to help them, advise them to speak with a teacher, parent, or any trusted senior. 


    1. Use “We” when discussing the problem: Always remember that the emotions of all people involved in a conflict matter. Using “we” will prevent the other person from feeling accused or at fault. This means that you also feel responsible for the popped up situation and are trying to solve it, instead of finding someone to blame and excusing yourself. 


    1. Clarify what the person wants: always remember that an argument is not about you winning, but it’s about being collaborative and effectively solving the conflict. Make sure you listen actively and understand what the other person is trying to negotiate. Repeat what you believe are the person’s needs and get the confirmation. For instance, say “did I understand you right that…”


    1. Be Respectful: It does not matter how good you are at an activity or some subject. Always be mindful of the person’s position as a human being and show them that you respect them, no matter what. Do not interrupt them while speaking and let them finish. When you are done speaking a point, give them enough time to respond. Do not emphasis on winning and argument and rather, try to solve the conflict and be collaborative. 


    1. Apologize: sometimes, we are the ones misunderstanding and causing a totally unnecessary problem. If you caught yourself in a similar situation, apologize sincerely and try not to make the same mistake again. 


    1. Ask for help: if this feeling pops up that the conflict is turning into something out of control, do speak with a counselor, teacher, or any trusted adult and ask them for help. Have faith that adults have been in your shoes and might know things that you are not yet aware of. Do reach out for help and avoid bigger conflicts when they can be stopped at the right moment.  

    Life will inevitably involve conflict, and it might start early. Interpersonal conflict can occur when a child steals a toy from another child. It often shows up in disagreements, arguments, or other types of conflict in older children. Since nobody can always anticipate things to go their way, it's crucial for the students to learn conflict resolution techniques from an early age as well. 

    #Relationship #Conflict #PeerConflict #AdolescenceProblems #PeerRelationship


    To know more about A Guide for Adolescents: Practicing Self-Reflection for Personal Growth read here

    To know more about challenges in youth life read here

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