Whether with parents, peers or teachers, conflict arises in many everyday situations in a teen's life. An issue that starts as a minor conflict often turns to violence, according to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center. Teaching your teen to handle conflict through role-play gives him tools he can use in the real world when he butts heads.
You can talk to your teen until your blue in the face about handling conflict, but that might all go out the door when a real situation arises. Transferring the information and suggestions you've made into actual actions can be difficult for kids. Role-plays give your teen a chance to apply what you've talked about regarding a conflict. He gets to think of a response to a situation that could actually happen in his life.
The scenarios you act out with your teen during a role-play should relate to his life. You can pick up on sources of conflict based on what he tells you and what you know about his daily routine. For example, if a teacher is giving him a hard time about his performance in class, you might practice how he can talk to the teacher to get the problem resolved. If a classmate is making fun of him, work through how he should react. Common conflict situations to practice include pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend, peer pressure, conflict with teachers, harassment from a teammate or problems with his boss at a part-time job.
Young kids often jump right into pretend play or role-playing, but you might have more difficulty getting your teen to participate. You want your teen to learn from the role-plays, but you also want him to participate willingly so hold back on the pressure. If he's not sure what to say, try switching roles, with you playing the part of the teen in conflict. This allows you to show rather than tell your teen how he could respond in the situation. You don't have to plan the role-plays out ahead of time. If a situation comes up in a conversation with your teen, act it out right there.
The role-play itself lets your teen practice his response, but chatting after the action helps reinforce your point. He might think of new issues or become more confused after the role-playing. Following up helps your teen work through the situation. You should continue talking to your teen about difficult situations in general and the specific issue causing him conflict. You can refer back to the role-play or practice acting it out again down the road.
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