Learning to share isn’t always easy for a toddler. Conflict resolution is an integral part of preschool. Children must learn how to use their words to express what they are feeling. In our preschool classroom, Shana was a shy four year old who tended to allow other children to take advantage of her. If she had a toy and another child took it out of her hands, she wouldn’t do anything about it. If someone called her a mean name, she would just accept it. We were constantly working with Shana to stick up for herself and express, in words, how she felt. This involved a lot of role playing. If someone grabbed a toy out of her hands, we would help her respond to that child.
“I had that first, you can have it when I’m done,” we’d suggest she tell the other child.
Or, if a student said something that wasn’t nice, we’d encourage Shana to say, “That hurt my feelings.”
We would also have the other child respond so that they could have a dialogue. We’d encourage him to say something like, “May I please use that toy when you’re finished?” or “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.”
Children, especially girls, can be so mean, even at three years old. We don’t tolerate comments such as “You aren’t my friend,” or “You aren’t allowed to play with us.” It only takes one strong ring leader to encourage other children to make a rude comment or do something that hurts another child’s feelings. We ask the child how she would feel if someone called her a mean name. We discuss why it is wrong to make someone else feel bad.
The children must learn that we are one community and we must all be able to get along. That doesn’t mean a particular child has to be best friends with everyone else in the class, but they must be polite and show each other respect.