Conflict Resolution in Early Childhood: Helping Children Understand, Manage, and Resolve Conflicts

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9780130874016: Conflict Resolution in Early Childhood: Helping Children Understand, Manage, and Resolve Conflicts

This book examines the nature of conflict among 2- to 8-year-olds from a research-based, constructivist/ecological perspective. The author thoroughly discusses children's conflicts, emphasizing that peer and community culture make up the foundation for preventing and resolving conflict, and advocates teaching conflict resolution skills via a "three-layer-cake" of understanding, management, and resolution. Integrating themes of caring, building classroom community, connecting curriculum, involving family and community, and responding to the current educational climate. Coverage presents ways to create a caring classroom - both in physical environment and curriculum, to work with other adults in a child's life, and to implement peer mediation. Throughout, the material stresses the need to understand all children in light of applicable theory and current "best practice" in culturally responsive and inclusive classrooms. For current and prospective teachers, guidance counselors, and daycare providers.

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Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

As young children face increasing violence in their world, interest in conflict resolution continues to grow in schools and communities across the nation. Conflicts are part of everyday life in our work with young children. Conflict resolution is also part of a larger context of violence prevention, response to national crisis, character or moral education, and peace education.

Conflict Resolution in Early Childhood: Helping Children Understand, Manage, and Resolve Conflicts examines the nature of young children's conflicts, the role of peer conflict in children's development, and ways for practitioners and families to foster children's prosocial interactions and conflict resolution. With its primary focus on children and their conflicts with their peers, this book also explores the idea of adults as positive models for children in conflicts, and it incorporates the roles of family, community, and culture. An additional consideration is the evaluation, selection, adaptation, and development of curriculum program models for conflict resolution.

In order to support children's developing conflict resolution ability, adults need to understand what is happening in children's conflicts. Using real-life examples of children's interactions, this book explains conflicts through several theoretical perspectives and provides a practitioner focus on supporting child-centered resolutions in programs and classrooms for young children from ages two to eight. Constructivist and ecological contexts support an understanding of conflict resolution and peacemaking for all children.

Beginning in the early years, conflict resolution is an area of vital concern worthy of an in-depth study beyond the single chapter or few pages in books of a broader scope. This book presents children's ability to understand and resolve their disputes as a process of learning and development with implications for curriculum, behavior guidance, and child development. The growth of both children and teachers is a focus of this book.

The chapters resonate with the idea of collaboration in support of young children's conflict resolution across a broad spectrum of participants. We will look closely at children themselves, and also at classrooms, schools, families, and communities. Our approach is consistent with recommendations included in a list of 14 proposed solutions for preventing and reducing violence, from a 1994 symposium on violence at Brown University (Lipsett, 1994, p. 91):

  • Take a collective moral responsibility for violence and make a long-term, national commitment to its eradication.
  • Shift from a reactive to a proactive stance. Focus on tasks such as teaching conflict resolution and guaranteeing day care, instead of installing metal detectors and building bigger prisons.
  • Practice prevention. Teach kids as early as possible.
  • Teach non-violent conflict resolution to everyone.
  • Restrict media violence and promote responsible children's television programming.
  • Coordinate communication among kids, parents, schools, police, and communities.

ORGANIZATION

This book is presented in four parts. Part I offers a close look at definitions of children's conflicts, and at the broader context of the violence and peace surrounding children in their world. Part II presents ways to look at and understand children's conflicts and conflict resolution: first with the tools of observing and listening to children, then with characteristics of children's conflicts, and finally with theoretical perspectives to help make sense of what we observe. Part III takes us into the everyday world of classroom decision-making, from creating a caring community to supporting conflict resolution and peacemaking, to curriculum approaches and materials, to guidelines and strategies for intervening in children's conflicts. Part III includes chapters that focus on specific age groups, from young preschoolers to primary grades. Part IV moves the discussion beyond the early childhood setting to working with families and communities, to evaluating and using program models for conflict resolution, and, finally, to taking action and advocating on behalf of children and families in working together toward conflict resolution and peace.

FEATURES OF THIS BOOK

Conflict Resolution in Early Childhood brings together the themes of children's prosocial development, guiding behavior, antiviolence, peacemaking, and caring classrooms. The book encompasses all areas in which an early childhood professional might encounter conflicts: primarily interactions between child peers, but also between siblings and between adults. There is an emphasis on all children, considering diversity of culture, language, and ability. This focus has direct applications to curriculum and professional development. The intent is to further the reader's depth of understanding while providing direct implications for practice.

LEARNING WITH THIS BOOK

This book includes a variety of features for different audiences. Chapters include key points or objectives, practical examples, connections to theory, questions for further discussion, application exercises, "Thinking about All Children" boxes, and chapter summaries. Integrated throughout the book, real-life scenarios provide opportunities for students to analyze conflicts from the viewpoints of both children and adults. The book also discusses implications for classroom decision making and recommends resources. More advanced students will find useful the sections on theoretical perspectives, research updates, teacher researcher suggestions, and focus on current issues. Those newer to the field will enjoy the application assignments, case studies, classroom strategies, and activities for children. These features will be helpful to instructors as well. Questions for reflection and self-examination are suited to all audiences.

Students, teachers, and others who read this book and then apply what they learn, will

  • Have a greater understanding of children's conflicts in the context of their peer, family, and community cultures.
  • Develop tools for seeing and understanding children's peer interactions and conflicts by learning about children from children.
  • Think of children's peer conflicts and conflict resolution as complex social, emotional, and cognitive processes, which we can understand using a number of theoretical lenses.
  • Recognize elements of children's peer conflicts, issues, strategies, and outcomes.
  • Work to create an early childhood setting for peace and conflict resolution, creating a caring community and integrating curriculum activities, materials, routines, and all aspects of the physical and social environment, in a diverse and inclusive setting.
  • Use appropriate adult intervention in children's peer conflicts, working toward children's independent and mutually agreeable conflict resolution.
  • Develop new ways of working with families and communities to support peaceful, non-violent environments.
  • Become familiar with, and be able to evaluate, a variety of models of conflict resolution, violence prevention, and peace education programs.

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