Teaching Person vs Self Conflict

Types of Conflict in Literature - Person vs Self

In Person vs Self conflict, the main character has a problem within him/herself. This type of struggle takes place in the character’s mind. The character has to make a choice between doing something that is right or wrong. The character may also have to overcome emotions.

For elementary students, this type of conflict can be explained in simple terms such as “Sometimes, people have to face problems that are caused by their own thoughts or feelings. It could be something like trying to make a decision or being scared of something. These problems can be really tough to overcome, but the person has to find a way to understand their own thoughts and feelings and make a decision that is best for them.”

Types of Conflict Organizer

Types of Conflict in Literature Organizer

Use this organizer/booklet independently or place it inside an interactive notebook.  On each page, students write a definition and give examples of the type of conflict. On the final page, students summarize internal and external conflicts.

Download the organizer here.

In this quiz, students read short passages from novels and answer questions related to types of conflict in the literature about the passages. A link to the Google Doc version of the quiz is included in the pdf for teachers who wish to alter the quiz to meet the needs of students.

Download the Types of Conflict quiz here.

Teaching Person vs Self Conflict in Literature with Movie Trailers

Toy Story
Play Video about Toy Story

Toy Story

Woody faces an internal struggle when he has to choose between his loyalty to Andy and his desire to be played with by Bonnie. He realizes that his purpose is to bring joy to children.

Play Video about Tangled


Rapunzel battles with herself as she grapples with the desire to live her own life and her guilt for betraying her mother. She chooses to be true to herself and her dreams.

Luke Skywalker
Play Video about Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker Surrenders to Darth Vader

Luke struggles with his fear of turning to the dark side and his desire to save his friends, ultimately choosing to trust in the Force and confront Darth Vader.

Aladdin and the Genie
Play Video about Aladdin and the Genie

Aladdin and the Genie

Aladdin battles with his self-doubt and insecurities as he tries to win over Jasmine. He learns to believe in himself and be honest about who he truly is.

The Grinch
Play Video about The Grinch

The Grinch

The Grinch struggles with his own identity and self-image, attempting to find the right outfit to wear to impress the townspeople and ultimately realizing that he doesn’t need to change who he is to be accepted.

Inside Out
Play Video about Inside Out

Inside Out

In this animated movie, a girl named Riley moves to a new city and must navigate the complex emotions that arise as a result. The conflict arises from Riley’s internal struggle to understand and accept her emotions and to find a way to cope with the changes in her life.

Book Examples to use for Teaching Person vs Self Conflict

Picture Books

  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang
  • The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
  • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
  • The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
  • The Dog Who Cried Wolf by Keiko Kasza
  • Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey
  • Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles
  • My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
  • Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
  • Hey, Al by Arthur Yorinks and Richard Egielski

Children’s Literature 

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi:

Pinocchio battles with his desire to be a real boy and his tendency to be easily swayed by bad influences, ultimately learning the value of honesty and making the right choices.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli:

The main character, Leo, struggles with his own self-doubt and insecurity as he falls in love with the unconventional and free-spirited Stargirl, ultimately learning to accept and embrace his own uniqueness.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:

Alice faces an internal struggle as she navigates the strange and unpredictable world of Wonderland, questioning her own identity and reality, and ultimately realizing the importance of using her own wit and courage to face challenges.

Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith:

The main character, Henry, battles with his obsession with chocolate and the consequences it brings, ultimately learning to find balance and self-control in his desires.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein:

In this classic picture book, a tree gives everything it has to a boy over the course of his life, until all that is left is a stump. The conflict arises from the tree’s internal struggle to give everything it has to the boy, despite the toll it takes on the tree.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio:

In this novel, a boy named August has a facial deformity and must navigate the challenges of starting school for the first time. The conflict arises from August’s struggle to accept himself and overcome the fear and prejudice of others.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle:

In this beloved picture book, a caterpillar eats its way through various foods until it transforms into a butterfly. The person vs self conflict arises from the caterpillar’s internal struggle to grow and change, and the challenges he faces along the way.

Types of Conflict Organizer

This organizer/booklet may be used independently or placed inside an interactive notebook.  On each page, students write a definition and give examples of the type of conflict. On the final page, students summarize internal and external conflicts.

Download the organizer here.

Gay Miller

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