A world with less blame would have less violence. To me, this is the most obvious of truths. Since I study and write about early childhood and anti-bias education, it raises an even more obvious question.
How do we raise very young children to be adults that use less blame and focus more on solving problems? That's a challenging question. Good thing I love challenging questions and have been reading, writing, and learning out in the field of early childhood for the last 43 years.
Have you heard the term conflict resolution? How about problem-solving? Appreciative Inquiry? If you're familiar with these terms, you might be interested to know that all of these techniques can be applied to early childhood learning experiences.
Since around 80% of our brain connections are actually formed before the age of 3, this is a very important concept!
It means that we could potentially increase understanding and reduce violence in the world through early childhood experiences. It's true:
"The hand that rocks the cradle, is the hand that rules the world!"
-William Ross Wallace-
If you are a parent, an early childhood educator, head start teacher, nanny, childcare staff, administrator, parent educator, special educator, or volunteer you can really make a difference. I work in an empathy lab and I know as you do that dealing with very young children and their problems is an art and a science. It's not rocket science, but it is science and that's a point I want to make very clear because it matters a lot!
I'm going to share with you some words we use in the field to help very young children learn to solve problems on their own. The first thing we never do is assign blame. That only increases anger and suspicion. Instead, we say this, when we see 2 children struggling with each other.
"It looks like you have a problem"
Then, we state the problem in a way they can hear it and maybe understand it.
"You both want the same ball, you are so angry, you're hurting her. You have to stop. It's ok to feel angry, it's never OK to hurt another person. I'll hold the ball until we can figure something out. "
If someone is hurt or crying, please take the time to ask them if they're OK and listen. Children learn from example and you're their best teacher right now. They need you to stay calm and help them get it sorted out. It depends on their mental age how much help they'll need from you to solve the problem and move on.
If you want a few more details about hitting and hurting, you can read my article here or you can join us and get my entire slideshow on getting kids to listen without yelling or time-outs which has 22 pages of answers.
You can get the slideshow immediately and free by clicking here!
Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.