We are already a month into 2017 with the hustle and bustle of the Holidays behind us and Spring on the way! I am feeling rested and ready to greet this New Year with growth and perseverance to our commitment to excellence at Children’s Enchanted Learning Center. As our staff settles into their roles and youth come and go, I’ve noticed that there is often challenges in getting along with each other. I see this as a natural occurrence and I also want to pay close attention to how our teachers are responding when there is conflict. As we know conflict can show up in many forms: attention-seeking, bullying, physical fights and emotional game-playing. All of these strategies work against harmony in the classroom.
When a conflict arises, we follow steps to bring safety and security back into the environment. A first step may look like force, if someone had to be removed quickly, but the aim is always to dialogue with the young people, parents and staff. We want to be curious about what is going on for the children at the moment of conflict and what they really want when making a choice that doesn’t contribute to the well-being of others. If the child is old enough, we ask them what is going on for them and, depending on the response we can usually assess that needs like rest, play, fun, choice and freedom weren’t being met and the young person chose to “act out” in order to get those needs met.
Another step for myself and the staff to take is to check their intention. I have found over and over that, if we set our intention as connection, most incidents can be resolved by a little attention to each individual child. By “intention” I mean, what is it that we want most of all? And, being able to listen to the children while keeping safety and harmony in mind is generally the way to connect. Some of the practices I’ve mentioned in previous blogs like meditation and mindfulness really support our remaining calm when things like bullying occur. I know they give me the seconds I need to address my fear, confusion and anger so I can be available to children in conflict. If I don’t do this step I notice that people, especially young people can sense the feelings and the conflict intensifies.
Knowing that working parents are the busiest people in the world and knowing that rest and relaxation can’t always be scheduled in when you have a young child or two, I encourage 5- 10 minute practices that can be done in the car, shower, work, over lunch, etc. for self-connection and self-care. Let’s co-create a wonderful and peaceful world as we move into 2017. Let’s show our children that we can live together in harmony even while holding different opinions and belief systems because there will always be differences and conflicts. Let’s make a learning experience out of each case as an example to our next generations.