Use Your Words!
We often hear adults say to children in conflict, "Use your words." The problem is that children often do not use words because they can't find the right ones. That is why group time is so helpful for conflict resolution and language building! It is a calm time that offers the opportunity for children to learn the words and practice using them within a supportive group setting.
Act It Out
Puppets and dolls allow children to try on a situation without putting themselves on the line! You can suggest a specific situation for children to role-play with puppets or dolls. For example, one puppet could be a child who wanted to sit next to the teacher for group time but the other child (puppet) got there first. At first you may need to help the children use the puppets to act out the dialogue. You might ask one child, "What would you say if someone was sitting where you wanted to sit?" Then ask the other, "What would you say if someone wanted you to move?" The others in the group can suggest different ways to solve the problem.
Collect magazine pictures or read books that show conflicts children can relate to, such as children fighting over a toy or a trike, or one child bullying another Encourage discussions about the issues by asking "What do you think is happening in this situation? How does this child feel? How does the other child feel? What might happen next?" Invite children to suggest solutions for ending the situations peacefully.
Issues arise daily in a classroom community. You might want to make a list of problems you are observing and periodically bring these to the group for consideration. In the process, children are building expressive language and vocabulary and essential listening skills. Remember that the ability to listen without judgment, and to make suggestions without ownership, is not only a language skill but also an essential social skill.