Dealing With Conflict Between Montessori Children

There is no doubt about it; being a parent is hard work. From the hours to fixing scraped knees and getting food on the table at meal time to answer the multiple questions that are so typical of children's natural curiousity. Now add in some conflict between your child and their siblings, cousins, friends, etc, and suddenly, parenting can seem a lot more difficult. Never fear; Montessori has some great philosophies around how to handle conflict, as well as children that make be aggressive towards others (both adults and other children) and disruptive in their environment.  The first trick is to not let yourself get outwardly angry or reactive, but to take a second to let go of your frustration before you approach the situation. More tips can be found below.

Here is some information on conflict management from the folks over at MariaMontessori.com:

A question arose in the comments: “How should adults (parents and teacher alike) handle a child who is disruptive and aggressive to others?”

The short answer is: There’s no one right answer (but some wrong ones!).  Because every scenario, every child, and every adult is different, the right approach has to include a tailored mixture of common sense, compassion, firmness, and consistency.  Additionally, you should consider the age of the children you’re helping, since toddlers and pre-schoolers use different levels of communication and reasoning.  With that said, here’s an approach I’ve used successfully in the past, but again, the ideal “technique” will depend on the characteristics of the situation at hand…

First of all, if a child is putting a peer in danger (i.e. biting or scratching), it is best to separate the aggressor from the situation as unemotionally as possible and take him to an area where he can calm down safely.  Theresa, an experienced Montessori guide, placed a pillow under a table and used it as a calming spot for one student.  In some cases, an over-stimulated child might need to leave the scene entirely for a little while.

Reacting to a child’s behavior out of anger and panic is NEVER an effective solution. You might feel angry and frustrated with the aggressor (I know I have!), yet the situation is not about you.  His behavior is not a reflection of your ability as a parent or teacher! He is simply asking for guidance in dealing with an unfamiliar experience and strange feelings… It’s a beautiful learning moment, so take advantage of it!  You should use a firm voice to let the child know his behavior is unacceptable, but don’t fight violence with violence!

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