Non-Violent Conflict Resolution Through Collaborative Problem Solving

Conflict is part of life.  How we deal with it is a skill we learn. Conflicts may range from as minor as what shirt to wear to as major as a violent confrontation with a bully. While it is apparent that conflicts exist in everyday life there is little guidance provided to our youth regarding conflict resolution practices.  Non-violent conflict resolution, anti-bullying, and leadership skills are critical in a dangerous, crowded world. Making It Better! teaches these skills to your students in a fun way.

The Making It Better! non-violent conflict resolution program is interactive, involving and fun. It reflects the student's understanding, cognitive abilities and social skill set.  It teaches techniques for recognizing and avoiding conflict as well as what to do when conflict is unavoidable.


The Making it Better! Non-Violent Conflict Resolution Through Collaborative Problem Solving program  consists of four main areas.  These are applied at various times throughout the program. The typical program uses 1 hour of classroom time. (Note: Other configurations of the program are available that can accommodate lesser and more time.)

Part 1 of the program involves students in learning what conflict is. Conflict may be interpreted differently depending on the social understandings in which the student has been raised. These variations are taken into consideration by allowing the students to describe conflict in their own terms. This technique allows for a group lead discussion that provides a sense of importance to the students rather than another period of instruction. After the key concepts that the students feel reflect conflict are presented, the instructor enhances their understanding of conflict with examples that range from minor to severe instances.

Part 2 deals directly with how to avoid conflict, and what to do if you cannot avoid it.  Various techniques are presented which teach students how to avoid negative conflict. Students are given scenarios from which they may decide how to avoid a confrontation.

Part 3 deals with what the student can do if they are not able to avoid conflict. This portion of the program shows how to not escalate a conflict situation. A group discussion around how to deescalate a situation is gone over and three key methods of how to make a situation non-violent are described. These methods are  applied to real life situations in which the students participate. They decide the appropriate course of action. The "ABC’s" of conflict resolution are presented through interactive exercises.

Part 4 of the program is a way for the conflict resolution information and skills learned in the Making It Better! program to be extended throughout the school year.  Each student receives a Peace Journal. They are instructed to write down situations that occur to them in their Peace Journal. The journals provide an opportunity for students to share situations they encounter in which non-violent conflict resolution was or was not effective. This phase of the program is intended to enlarge and deepen the Making it Better! program.  It ensures that weekly, if not daily, thinking regarding conflict resolution happens.

Learning Applications

While the primary premise of the program is designed to instill a sense of non-violent conflict resolution behavior in students, there are additional educational results that can be taken from the program. The Peace Journal is completely blank except for the cover page that is for the student's name, school and class.  The back cover  has the ABC’s of conflict resolution for reference.

One choice that a school and teacher have in the Making it Better! program is for students to make a weekly entry about a type of conflict they were engaged in and how it was resolved in their Peace Journal.  Another possible facet of the Peace Journal part of the program is for students to cut out and tape or paste in current event conflict pictures in the journal and present a non-violent resolution that could have been, or can be, implemented. This exercise helps students learn of violent and non-violent current events and how they impact society as a whole. There are many types of conflict, ranging from sports competition to criminal behavior and international conflicts. These ongoing identifications of conflict and problems and paths to non-violent conflict resolution and problem solving are crucial for the long-term incorporation of non-violent problem solving into the student's life.

To bring this program to your school, contact Pacem in Terris at 302-656-2721 or here.


  • Program length: Flexible. Can be configured in a variety of ways. Usually one-hour in length.
  • Follow-up activities/lesson plans for teachers to do after the program: Yes.
  • Cost: $150 to $300 for class depending on class size, age and location (distance from Wilmington, DE).


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