Empowering students to solve their own conflicts without tattling on one another is a high priority goal in our classroom. Being able to resolve conflicts quickly, justly, amicably, and independently is an integral part of developing effective leadership, friendship, and citizenship skills.
In the early stages of kindergarten, it is not unusual to see students engage in aggressive behavior surrounding ownership and sharing. Situations like who claimed which toy first, and who ripped what thing out of what kid’s hand are common. Students can easily succumb to their aggressive tendencies including hitting, pushing, pinching, and even biting when they feel their sense of space or ownership has been compromised. A kindergarten classroom can be as cutthroat as a pirate ship and just as merciless!
At this age though, students seem to understand the notion of fairness and can surprisingly apply this advanced concept to their own plight especially if the outcome favors their own agenda. Teachers can capitalize on this by encouraging students to not only use their words, but to use these specific words strung together in this order to form the most impactful and effective intervention for nearly every transgression.
A simply stated, well placed, “Please don’t do that,” will have even the most motivated aggressor, quickly back off. In our classroom, it is an entire conversation.
Kid 1: Does something hurtful.
Kid 2: “Please don’t do that.”
Kid 1: “I’m sorry.”
Kid 2: “That’s okay.”
And just like that it’s over. It is FAR more effective than another kid or even an adult telling the kid to stop. It is even more effective than a teacher telling a kid to “Please don’t do that.” Though the teacher version of this might be needed in extreme cases- (“Please don’t do that, Sweetheart, Shalina Teacher does not like that”), it is a conversation that both parties seem to understand and to participate in fully. The outcome is a well navigated, well resolved conflict. So much better than tattling.