Community News: January, 2015-2016

Modeling Positive Communication

By Kelly Mulligan

Children learn through play and conflict and negotiating is part of that process. It is childrenís work to pratice, practice and practice how to navigate peer relationships. Through practice, modeling and emotion coaching, children will learn to take turns, communicate their needs and regulate their emotions. As a parent working in the classroom there are multiple ways in which you can model and coach positive communication as well as mediate conflict when necessary.

When children are young, pre-verbal or their verbal communication is limited, it is important to help them with their communication. For example if a child comes up to another child to grab a toy, you can model appropriate language- "Are you wanting a turn? I see that Miles is playing with the toy right now. You can ask him to have a turn when he is finished. Miles, when you are finished can Ezra have a turn?" The younger the child, the more you as the adult are needed in assisting with communication. However, if the child has communication skills, then it is important to encourage the child to do the talking and connecting.

All children benefit and respond well to positive communication. Using positive words and telling them what they can do is important. Try to avoid using "donít".

For example:

"Itís time to______________________________________."

"Hands are for helping not hurting."

"Do you need help?"

"If you can not come here by yourself, I will help you."

Try to avoid asking children "Do you want to_________?" Or "Are you ready to clean up?" Give them choices when there are actual choices.

For example:

"Itís time to clean up."

"Itís time to go outside."

"Do you want to put away the books or the cars?"

Noticing what children can do and are capable of builds their confidence and fosters independence. "You really know how to pick up all those books." "You have figured out how to get your jacket on all by yourself." If they are working on something and getting frustrated, you can praise their efforts and encourage them by saying, "I noticed that you are working hard to write your name and you might be feeling frustrated. This is something that you can't do yet, but you will, keep practicing."

Mediating Conflict:

The younger the child, more assistance from adults is needed to help them negotiate and being in closer proximity to them will help. If a child is physically hurt, it is important to comfort the hurt child first and then to talk with the child that is not being safe. Bringing attention to a child's emotional state is important learning for all. It is important to ask questions and refrain from judgment even if you feel that you know what happened. You can tell them what you saw or noticed but help the children express themselves.

Positive examples of communication:

  • I see that your body is not being safe right now and I need to keep our friends safe.
  • I canít let you hurt me/others right now.
  • It looks like Max feels sad. Why does he feel that way?
  • The way that you are using that toy is making me nervous and I am afraid that someone might get hurt.
  • I am going to put the toy/object in a safe place.
  • Are you feeling angry right now? What can you do when youíre angry?Ē
  • When you are ready can you go check in with John to see if he is okay?
  • I wonder how Alexa is feeling?

Problem Solving Strategies:

  1. Help the children state the problem. "Can you tell me what happened here?" "I can see that Maria is crying."
  2. If someone got hurt. Help those involved problem solve. "Are you okay? How can I help you feel better?"
  3. Help the children brainstorm ideas that may help to solve the problem. "How can we solve this problem?" "Do you have an idea?"
  4. Help the children to try out their ideas. Watch and see how they interact.
  5. Give encouragement- "You really know how to take turns. You are showing me that you can work together to solve a problem. Are you having fun doing it that way together?"

Positive communication is a practice. The more you do it the more it becomes integrated in your everyday interactions with your children, not just in the classroom but also at home.

The PAC Newsletter

The PAC Newsletter is produced by parents working in the PAC Communication Committee. The aim of the newsletter is to help co-ops communicate among themselves, inform families about important dates, ideas, related classes and seminars, Cooperative Preschool solutions and techniques from other preschools. It also advertises teacher openings, and fundraising activities.

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