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How to Successfully Navigate Conflict at School

04 August 2022   |   by Explore Careers
Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’ll let you in on a (not so) big secret: conflict happens.

At home, in the workplace, at the gym – and school – nowhere is safe!

We’re kidding, but conflict is a part of life. Understanding how to handle and navigate these scenarios when they arise is a vital life skill.

Not all conflict is bad, and when it’s handled appropriately, conflict doesn’t have to end in a huge fight.

Whether it’s getting heated during a team sports game or annoyed with someone taking your stuff without asking, no matter how big, small, silly or essential – here are a few tips on handling conflict like a pro.

5 Tips for Successfully Navigate Conflict at School

Before we dive in, it’s worth knowing different things work for different people.

As you read through this list, it’s okay to feel unsure if it would work for you. But try to keep an open mind; different things can work in different situations.

  1. Before reacting, hit PAUSE!

It’s easy to get heated over silly things, especially if you’ve had a bad day.

Many things influence our mood on any given day, and our mood usually dictates how we respond to a situation. Something that wouldn’t annoy us on any other day might feel huge on a day when we’ve forgotten breakfast, had a row with a parent and got a poor score on a test.

Whether it’s you reacting to a situation or another person – hit PAUSE – give yourselves a moment to level up your awareness on why this might be getting to you right now.

  1. Ask yourself: How big is this problem really?

Ask yourself how big is this problem or situation really, and is my reaction to it proportionate?

Flying off the handle and screaming because someone accidentally bumped into you or a friend is way out of proportion for the scenario.

Consider what would be appropriate, and that’s the point you start from.


Think of all the scenarios that might cause conflict or trigger you in school. Write down what an out-of-proportion reaction might be and what an appropriate one would look like.

Thinking about this beforehand can help you better respond if the situation arises.

  1. Set clear boundaries and expectations.

If a conflict with someone happens, be clear in how you will or won’t engage with them. It’s okay to set firm boundaries and act on them if someone continually violates them.

Think about how you want to be treated – what you are prepared to put up with and what you are not – and then the alternative to that behaviour. Also, think about what you want to happen and what you will do if someone keeps overstepping a boundary you’ve told them about.


Think about the best ways you want to be treated by your peers and others around you – what does that look, sound, and feel like? How can you communicate this to others in positive ways before conflict arises?

Write down your ideas and share them with the people close to you.

  1. Walk away when you need to.

It can be the hardest thing to do when conflict arises, and you feel wronged, unheard or misunderstood – or worse, when someone is actively trying to get you worked up! But it can also be a valuable way to manage conflict.

Walking away isn’t about weakness or ‘losing’. It’s about putting all the tips above into practice, knowing that sometimes conflict isn’t worth the drama and energy.

  1. Seek help and support.

Conflicts can take over your mental energy and sense of wellness if you let them drag on for too long. We often think we have to manage everything ourselves, but if you’re continually worrying about a particular situation or experience, reach out to those who can help.

Your friends, teachers, parents or school counsellors are there to help. Even just talking through it aloud with a neutral party can help you figure out how you might resolve things.

Don’t suffer in silence; make sure you reach out, no matter what.

Some Helpful Resources

To help you learn more about managing conflict, now or in the future, we’ve compiled a few handy resources:

  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): Information and support for anyone struggling with things and needing to talk. Offers a helpline and webchat.
  • Childline: Support on topics like bullying, your body and relationships. It also provides a phone helpline and 1-2-1 online chats with professional counsellors.
  • Kooth: A safe, anonymous online community and counselling for young people.
  • The Mix: Provides advice for people under 25, including a helpline, crisis messenger service (text THEMIX), and webchat.
  • NHS Every Mind Matters: Advice on mental health and wellbeing for young people. Includes videos about dealing with change, social media and sleep.

We know not every conflict can be handled smoothly, and if you’re experiencing any form of bullying or harassment – always speak with a trusted adult or get a friend to help you reach out.

It doesn’t matter how ‘silly’ you think it is; if it’s making you feel uncomfortable, worried or anxious, speak up and get the support you need to manage the situation.


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