Wednesday, December 17, 2008

conflict resolution

Yesterday there were a couple of moments with the children both at school and at childminding where I was stunned by how effective my conflict resolution techniques were. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with children knows that they are never as co-operative as you would like them to be, and that in the midst of an argument, the last thing they often want to do is to listen to you talking to them about how they should have dealt with the situation.

One of the things I have been learning more and more as a result of working in a nursery class of 3 and 4 year olds is that managing emotions is something that has to be taught. Children don't just know how they should respond when something has made them sad, or what they should say to the person who has made them sad is. That might sound simple, but it has been an amazing discovery.

So, back to the conflict resolution....I hate calling it that - it sounds rather clinical, when in reality what I am doing is what I described above - helping children to be loving towards one another in the way they interact. I spotted two girls fighting over a crocodile. It hadn't got to the screaming / crying / fisticuffs stage yet, but I could see it headed in that direction. So I went and said something a bit like this:

'Pip, why are you pulling the crocodile away from Lucy?'
Pip: 'Because I was playing with it first.'
Hannah: 'Well, it looks to me like Lucy would like to play with it too, and we share our toys at school, don't we?'
Pip: Nods.
Hannah: 'Lucy, if you wanted to play with the crododile and you could see that Pip was already playing with it, what do you think you could have said to her, instead of just trying to take it from her?'
Lucy: 'Please can I play with the crocodile?'
Hannah: 'Brilliant! And Pip, what could you say to Lucy if she asked you nicely like that?'
Pip: 'ok'
Hannah: 'So Lucy, do you want to say to Pip what you just said to me?'
Lucy: 'Please can I play with the crocodile?'
Pip: 'Ok, but just for a little while.'
And off they ran. It might sound like a very small thing, but it was a wonderful moment.

I've changed the names of the children involved to protect their identity.

1 comment:

snailsnail said...

Fisticuffs is a fantastic word.

However, try doing this when the children are Pedro and Lucia... somewhat more difficult :-)