Conflict Resolution Activities for Adults and Children

conflictresolutionactivitiesConflict is something we have all had to face sooner or later. Many of us face some form of conflict on a daily basis. It could be something as simple as what to eat for breakfast or much more complicated, like an argument between two coworkers working on the same project together. Even children deal with conflict.

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The problem with conflict is that some people don’t know how to reach a resolution. Children especially have difficulties finding resolution with their conflicts. To help you find resolution to the conflicts in your life, or to help your children find resolution, here are some quick and easy activities you can use.

Listening Conflicts

Everyone has been guilty of not listening at one point or another. You might have had a long day at work, and your partner called you during lunch to ask if you could pick up something from the store afterward. Already tired and stressed from work, you agreed without actively listening to remember what the item was you needed to pick up.

What is the conflict in this situation? Not listening. What is the resolution? Learn to listen, and realize how important it is to actively listen.

Activity for Adults

If you’re in a leadership role at work, there’s a fun activity you can play with your employees to teach active listening and how to do it. If you’re not in a leadership role, you can suggest this activity to your employer to do with your coworkers.

The activity is very simple. Called the “Active Listening Game,” you start out with the participants not listening at all. Then you switch it and have them actively listen.

Activity for Kids

Like the adult activity, this activity is very simple. You can do this activity with kids ranging in age from 5 to 10. The lesson plan uses puppets, but if you don’t happen to have puppets, using stuffed animals would work just as well. If you don’t have stuffed animals, you can make it into a short skit. Like the adult activity, it starts out showing people not listening. Then they sit, listen, and talk.

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Anger Conflicts

People get angry from time to time. No one can say they’ve never been angry. Even children get angry, and everyone can use a helping hand with their anger issues. You don’t want shouting matches to happen between coworkers who can’t agree, and you don’t want children hitting each other and screaming.

Activity for Adults

There is a great arm wrestling activity used to help build community and partnership. It’s basically arm wrestling, but you don’t say “arm wrestling”. The idea behind this activity is that there are two rules: you get a point each time your partner’s arm hits the table, and you want to get as many points as you possibly can for yourself without any care for anyone else.

You can imagine that partners angry at each other won’t get as many points as partners that talk it out before starting and suggest partnerships. This is also a great exercise for assumption conflicts. The idea is that most of the partnerships will get few points because they know “arm wrestling” even if you never actually used the terms.

Activity for Kids

Anger Ball-Toss” is a great activity for kids. Using nothing more than a soft ball or stuffed animal or even a small pillow, you start the activity by saying, “I feel angry when…” then completing the sentence. You then toss the item to a child and ask them to repeat your sentence then complete the sentence for themselves. The toss game continues with each child repeating the sentence of the child before them and completing the sentence for themselves.

In this way, the children discover what makes their peers angry, and some might even find that the same things make them angry. The idea is that knowing what makes their peers angry, the children will attempt to avoid those activities or things that bother them. If you wanted to use this activity with adults, you could change the ball toss into a simple circle discussion.

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Goal Conflicts

There always comes a time when goals will conflict. In the workplace, this is very common. One person will feel quality is more important than quantity. Someone else working on the same project will believe quantity is more important than quality. These can cause issues, and it’s important to reach a resolution during these times.

The same can happen with children. Granted, the goals can be much simpler. One child might want to play at the park while the other wants to stay at home and play with his toys. As the one person watching both children–or a group of children–it’s important to reach a “goal” that they can all live with.

Activity for Adults

An activity called “Knot or No Knot” is great for goal conflicts. The exercise is based on the idea of the group agreeing on one thing. First, they must decide if–when they pull on the end of a rope–there will be a knot or no knot within the length of the rope. After they come to a decision about that, they must come to a decision regarding what the consequence will be if they’re wrong.

This will get everyone in the group on the same page, and you can then allow them to examine the rope to see whether or not there was a knot or not. You can then discuss with them that this kind of consensus behavior is important even with their work projects. They can’t have some people believing quality is more important while others believe quantity is. If they ran a project like that, they could get a whole bunch of poor quality items from some people while others create a few great quality products.

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Activity for Kids

A quick and easy brainstorming for consensus activity is great to teach kids how to reach a common goal. This activity places an object in front of the children and has them brainstorm how many things they can do with that object. However, if your conflict with the children is something like going to the park or the library, you can easily use that instead of the object.

Rather than having the children brainstorm the uses, they can brainstorm the fun things to do at those places. You can separate the children into teams based on who wants to go where then tell them that the idea is to present a case to the other team that convinces everyone to go to one place.

Once they’ve brainstormed all the fun things about each place, they present their case. Afterward, take a vote again to see who wants to go where. Have those children that changed their mind join the other team and continue to convince their friends why the other place is better. Eventually, everyone will have one place they want to go to, and they’ll all be happy about it.

A Final Word

Conflict is never easy, and resolving it can sometimes be difficult too. However, with these fun activities, you will hopefully have fewer conflicts blowing out of proportion, and hopefully your employees or kids will learn the lessons learned during the activities and use them to resolve their conflicts in the future.