Conflicts among young children are typical in group settings and occur during children’s play and interactions. Most children will naturally experience both the “victim” and “perpetrator” role as they learn to navigate a broader social community outside their home. We've found that the most common conflicts arise over property, territory, personal space, and exclusionary play and we view these natural occurrences as valuable learning experiences for children. Our teachers work to skillfully facilitate problem-solving skills that teach children to effectively maneuver the playground, the classroom, and ultimately, the real-world. We hope to provide children with a "toolbox" of conflict-resolution skills that they can carry with them throughout their education at Pacific Oaks Children's School and beyond.
We apply a multitude of tactics and methods to help students resolve problems, such as:
- bringing children together to describe the conflict and cooperatively negotiate a mutually acceptable solution
- setting-up a developmentally appropriate environment
- providing a large selection of classroom materials so that children won’t have to wait a long time for a favorite toy or possession
- providing adequate space and time so that children are not crowded or rushed
- creating an environment that views problem-solving as a positive experience and learning opportunity
- respecting children and their feelings
- providing positive and safe ways to express thoughts and feelings through words, actions, drawings, writing, and art
- providing opportunities for choice making and child-initiated activities
- asking open-ended questions that are non-judgmental and illicit more in-depth thinking
By applying this acquired skill set, children learn to see and respect another's point of view and use language as an effective communication tool— clearly and effectively expressing their needs, wants, emotions, and thoughts. They learn to constructively handle conflict and cope with frustration and disappointment while developing self-soothing skills and pro-social behaviors. They also learn to anticipate how others might react to their behavior and use that information to make choices about how they approach a situation.