Whenever a conflict arises in the classroom I consciously try to be a mediator instead of giving them the solution to the problem at hand. I have been using the following approach which I learned in a class last semester (“The role of play in early childhood education”). It has worked very well for me:
1) Approach calmly, stop any hurtful actions
2) Acknowledge feelings
3) Gather Information from both parties
4) Re-instate the problem using the child words
5) Ask ideas or solutions and encourage them to choose one
6) Give follow-up and support as needed
I saw Andrea holding a pair of scissors in her hands while Paula was trying to take it away from her. I slowly approached them and took the scissors away from them. Andrea said “I had them first”. Paula replied “I need them right now”. I encouraged them to use their words and to look at each others faces to acknowledge the other kid's feelings about the incident. Once both talked about it, Paula said she was trying to grab the scissors from Andrea’s hand. After that I said: “So you both want to use the same pair of scissors, what are we going to do about it?” They both stared at each other and said “I want it”. Then I encouraged them to think of a solution and after a while I suggested using other pair of scissors or take turns. They both wanted to use the pink ones of course. So then Andrea asked Paula “Can I use it first?” Paula said OK. Andrea used the scissors and went around the table to give them to Paula. I emphasized on how proud I was of them sharing and reaching a solution.
Children learn to solve problems by having the oportunity to deal with them. They are more capable than we think!