The family is the first socializing agent in the life of a child and represents the environment in which the first steps of learning take place on which their personality will rest. The role and treatment of this will be decisive so that each child can participate actively and autonomously in society.
According to the legacy of the Italian pedagogue, Maria Montessori, the main objective of the child in his early years is to achieve his independence. She divides the concept of independence into three subtypes. The first is physical and biological independence, with which skills such as walking, moving, eating and dressing autonomously are acquired.
The second is the intellectual independence, at this stage the ability to think and reason for oneself is reached. The last one is independence social and emotional, with which he learns to function in society. It is fully reached between the ages of 12 and 18, although it starts earlier.
Social and emotional independence consists, among other things, in learning to communicate emotions and resolve disagreements with the environment. They are complex capabilities that are constantly evolving throughout life. For this reason, in the early stages, good adult accompaniment is substantial, especially in conflict resolution.
When fights arise between children, the adult tends to intervene wanting, unconsciously, to impose a quick solution to the conflict. What the child interprets as a lack of confidence in him and translates, in the long run, into difficulties in putting his own resolution tools into practice.
When you intervene directly, you are taking away the opportunity to learn to solve by themselves and with their own resources and criteria. According to Dr. Montessori, any unnecessary help is an obstacle to learning, so the situation would be the same as for another task such as putting on shoes or dressing.
How to intervene and when? At first, staying out is the best option: Observe the situation from a distance in case they ask for help at any time.
If the conflict is creating a lot of tension and you can’t seem to get out, it’s okay to go over and suggest calmly that the best way to solve problems is with words, as well as to convey confidence in your ability to do so. Showing confidence in your abilities is known to positively affect your self-esteem.
If conflict were to come to blows, intervening is a good idea. In a calm and respectful way, they remind themselves that, even if they are very angry, it is better to resolve conflicts by talking. The role of the adult here will be to create a space in which they can solve the problem, from love and listening, with their own resources. If possible, the ideal is seated and that they can look at each other and touch each other at any time.
It is important from here to let them express themselves, encourage them to express their emotions, remind them that it is important that they respect turns speaking, as well as avoid imposing a solution to the problem at all costs.
In this way, it shows that they are trusted and they are allowed to learn organically to relate, to communicate and solve their own conflicts.
Depending on their age, it is recommended to adapt these guidelines to their ability to understand and manage emotions, especially with the vocabulary, examples and tone used.
Short term, it will improve the atmosphere and coexistence at home or in the classroom. In the long term, children will develop as empathetic adults with the ability to manage their emotions, which will have repercussions in healthier and happier personal, family and work relationships.