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."
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 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 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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