Conflicts naturally occur as children relate to each other in a group setting. At the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC), discipline provides an opportunity for growth and learning.
ECEC uses a variety of techniques to help children resolve conflicts. Methods vary depending on the child and the situation, but all teachers stress problem-solving skills and instill an intrinsically motivated sense of right and wrong. Teachers use the following techniques when dealing with conflict situations:
- Limit setting: Children are given basic, clear, and concise rules to guide their behavior. Boundaries and expectations expand as children develop.
- Consistency: Limits and expectations are consistent across classes, and all adults respond in a similar way to conflict situations.
- Tone: A kind yet serious tone delivered by intervening adults reinforces children's sense of security and lets them know the situation is under control.
- Modeling: Adults clearly demonstrate compassionate, caring behaviors that set examples for children to follow.
- Passive intervention: Teachers give children time to work through their own problems but are there to help if problems escalate.
- Physical intervention: Children are physically separated if they begin to hurt each other.
- Identifying/ interpreting: Teachers clarify problems, diffuse tension, and facilitate problem solving.
- Validating feelings: Acknowledging one’s own emotions and those of other children facilitates learning.
- Generating options/ solutions: Children are given tools to settle conflicts (negotiate, make retribution, collaborate, etc.).
- Redirection: A request to stop a negative behavior is accompanied by a suggestion for an appropriate behavior to replace it.
- Natural consequences: Teachers point out and reinforce natural consequences as they occur. Children see the results of their own behavior and begin to modify it accordingly. “You threw sand after we asked you not to. Now you need to leave the sandbox and find a different area to play in.”