The Importance of Child-Led Conflict

To some this may look likes a  group of boys not listening to each other, or a couple of children whinging and wining, or may be you are even questioning, ‘why is the educator videoing, and not getting in there and sorting this situation out for them’. 
As an Educator, I look at this situation and I reflect on the importance of child lead conflict, being such an opportunity of personal growth for everyone involved. It is a gift to allow them  the opportunity to compromise and negotiate with both peers and adults, to feel heard and contribute to each other’s learning. There are so many rich learning opportunities when it comes to peer conflicts and negotiations. And so much more beneficial than when this learning is taken away from them, in a bid to keep the peace. 
By actively supervising these types of conflicts and not jumping in feet first to keep the peace, I am able to see a child trying to push past his boundaries and jump further than he did last time. 
I see a child that couldn’t talk confidently to his peers at the beginning of the year, standing up and being heard and confidently talking with his friends. 
I see a child worried that the hay bales are too far apart and the distance won’t be safe for his little brother, who is also playing the game. And then I see his little brother, sneak in an extra cheeky jump while they are all negotiating the rules. 😉
I see a child who has previously really struggled with taking turns doing his very best to wait in line and practising patience. 
This is just a few, there is so much more. Children estimating distances and calculating risks. Children strengthening there bodies. And then my favourite, children working together and looking for solutions that are safe and fair for everyone. 
I thought this was the perfect example to help others look beyond the conflict and see how beneficial natural child lead conflict can be. I believe it is just as important as crawling, toileting training and reading and writing. Each conflict is a stepping stone to develop pathways in the brain, to establish healthy and successful lines of communication, friendships and interactions with their peers. 
So next time you see a child lead conflict in full swing, take a breath and see how the first 60secs or so, play out. Monitor, support and be present and definitely jump in if you think it’s necessary but take a moment to reflect and watch the magic. 
Written By Evie Blair – Early Childhood Teacher – Eskay Kids Springfield

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