A Role-Play Activity to Teach Conflict Resolution

By Kim Tranell
November 10, 2016

Photo: Shutterstock

How Can This Help?

Young people often have a difficult time recognizing conflict before it evolves into verbal abuse or bullying. Through strategic role-play and preparation, this activity will provide students with the key social-emotional learning tools they need to effectively communicate one side of an argument, as well as the motivation to empathize with the other.


What You’ll Need:


Key Skills:

Demonstrate strategies to prevent, manage, or resolve interpersonal conflicts without harming self or others (NHES 4)


The Procedure:

1. Read & Discuss. Distribute copies of the Choices article, How to Fight Fair. Students can certainly read independently, but this feature is designed to be interactive. Use these pause-and-reflect questions to guide class discussion:

  • After reading the introduction on p. 13, ask:
    How does conflict help us grow?
     It challenges us to see someone else's point of view.)
  • After reading FIGHT STYLE under Common Clash 1 on p. 14, ask:
    Why is the silent treatment an ineffective way to resolve a conflict?
    (Possible answer: You're not actually addressing the problem, so nothing will be resolved.)
  • After reading each Common Clash scenario, ask:
    What is the problem that needs to be solved here?
    (Answers will vary, but the point is to highlight that each conflict is about solving a problem or disagreement--that both people should invest in overcoming. You can also point out that Amy, Sam, and Sophie should each have a "goal"--whether that's more of Willow's attention, a more reasonable curfew, or more playing time.)  

2. Divide Students Into Pairs. Have students count off 1-2, 1-2. If you have an odd number of students, you can do one group of three--but this activity works best when the conflict scenarios can be simplified to two distinct sides.


3. Prepare to Act. Pass out the ROLE-PLAY GRAPHIC ORGANIZER worksheet and encourage students to follow the instructions to complete it as a pair. (If you think students will need help coming up with conflict scenarios, use our COMMON CONFLICT SCENARIO CARDS to get them started.) Remember, the goal here is for both parties--regardless of their respective roles--to work together to come up with a civil conversation starter that addresses the problem head-on

4. Start the Role-Play. In all honesty, the actual role-play is probably less important than the conversation-starter here--so if you don’t have time to dig into the final step, no worries! But if you do, reinforce the rules of respectful communication, as outlined in The Dos & Don’ts of Fighting Fair on p. 15.