I believe that encouraging children to share is complex and takes a lot of practice; I also believe that there are some key ingredients that can help make you more successful.
When toy conflict arises:
- Stay Calm. (Or maybe get calm if you weren't already). Being calm is going to help the children feel calm. If you rush in to save them all frazzled the situation is likely to escalate.
- "Sportscasts". This is an idea that R.I.E. educators have really elaborated on. Many education techniques use it. It means, saying out loud what you observed happening between the children. It helps the children be more clear about the situation and helps them feel seen. I often notice that children relax, just from hearing it. An example would be. "Coral was playing with the truck. You put your hands on it. Coral, you said, 'No.'" Pausing here gives the children a chance to elaborate.
- Experiment with the "when I'm done" idea. (For children around 3 and up). I like to offer children the chance to tell their peer, "When I'm done, I'll let you know." Then I follow through with reminding the child to go tell the other child when they are finished or I agree to pass the message on for them.
- Encourage them to play on their own for a while! This can help them calm down.
- Acknowledge and support the difficult emotions that arise. (Calm in the Storm)
- Practice co-creating solutions that work for everyone. The more the children come up with the better. Ex: finding different toys together, agreeing on a time line, playing alone, or playing a new game together.
- Notice when the children let it go, follow their lead!
Good luck! It can be a rocky-windy road! I would love to hear how it's going.
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