For young children, low-intensity parallel play can quickly escalate into a high-intensity exchange. When they feel overwhelmed they begin to struggle with regulating their emotional and behavioral responses. We view these conflicts as tremendous learning opportunities where an adult can step in, stabilize the situation and help initiate a child-generated resolution.
Consider this scenario:
Mark was rolling balls through a maze. Ivan sat next to him and started rolling balls through the same maze. They both watched the balls rolling down with excitement and searched for more balls on the ground. Sometimes they put the balls into the same maze and at first; it seemed okay with both boys, until Mark suddenly chose to hold on to the whole maze. He yelled, “Mine!” Ivan too held on to the maze tightly and pulled (demonstrating his disagreement with Mark). As it did not look safe, Teacher Kira placed her hand on the maze, but didn’t take the maze away.
The boys screamed loudly; it made it difficult to hear and talk. Teacher Kira reassured both boys by saying “I’m holding on and will not let go because it does not look safe”, she paused.
Both boys had tears in their eyes, their faces turning red, they continued struggling for a while. After a few minutes, Ivan decided to let go of the maze and crawled away, he came back with a similar maze. He said, “I helped Mark.”
After that, both of the boys got up and went to do something else together, as though nothing had happened. Another friend, Lily commented, “Looks like they don’t want to play with that house” (Maze looked like a house with a red roof).
It is a great value for both children to be involved in such a conflict situations. Great learning experience that is very challenging to rebuild latter on in life.
Wishing you all the best in the difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!