Very young children (toddlers and playgroup children) resolve their issues with their peers by instinctive reactions; like snatching an objects, hitting, biting, pushing etc. The older children especially from the age of four are more aware and knowledgeable of acceptable behaviours so their natural instinct was to approach their teachers to resolve their conflicts. They will become more sophisticated and competent as they cross-over to five and six years old mark.
Children around four years of age are in a challenging phase of working towards acceptable social behaviours, and resolving conflicts is one of the most difficult behaviour as it comprises of self-control such as holding back negative reaction in a situation and problem solving to achieve their desire. Hence it is important that adults need to understand their emotions and support them with skills and strategies in this area.
Aside from setting up a friendly and caring environment to facilitate and create opportunities for children in play and learning, Teachers should also take on an active role in creating a friendly and caring community in the classroom. It is necessary to have the buy-in from children with essential agreement in rules and expectations.
Teachers have to take time to resolve conflicts with all the parties involved in the issue when conflicts happened. Help them to express and exchange (empathize) their views and feelings in the situation. Assist to facilitate the situation and provide solutions to help resolve their conflict. Guide them to work out their action and check in on their actions.
In Singapore, Early Childhood teachers are usually the main and active adults in the development of this skill because many children are the only child at home. Hence, there are little opportunities for parents to develop this skill. Parents could arrange for play dates with their child’s peers, neighbourhood children or cousins of around the same range.