In a Montessori classroom we encourage our students to make an attempt to solve their own problems. Allowing children to do this helps them to think on their own. The first step to helping them along when a conflict arises is to ask open ended questions e.g. how did it happen? How did it make you feel? This allows them to use reasoning to solve the problem. Answering their question with a question and encouraging them to try resolving things on their own with a little guidance from an adult will help them avoid frustration.
When a disagreement or argument erupts among children in the classroom or at home, each child benefits from being able to tell his side of the story; having rehearsed, they then can adjourn to a designated area to talk things out. The Montessori classroom includes a “Peace Corner” where the children take turns explaining to the other how he or she felt about what the other child has done. This space must be peaceful and inviting to be effective, and the adult’s role is to encourage the children to use that space when conflicts arise.
A peace dove or rose—some symbol representing peace—helps children avoid arguments about who will speak first. The child holding the dove gets to speak first then passes the dove to the other child when he or she is done talking. This allows both children to acknowledge and understand the other’s feelings in order for them to work things out and not resort to using their fist. In my classroom I’ve placed a jar of shells and a small basket at the peace corner so when a conflict is resolved one shell is removed from the jar and placed in the basket before they leave the area. This gives them a visual at the end of the day as to how many problems they have solved on their own. Majority of the children usually leave the peace corner resolving their conflicts. This process of helping them solve their own problems removes the adult from the center of the conflict.