“A teacher’s practice changes most quickly and profoundly when she begins to observe children daily…this is the first and most powerful step in changing your practice”
I may not always have the opportunity to strictly observe children, but I can observe the children in my care daily, if even just for a few moments here and there. As I read the quote above from a text I realized just how dire observing is in becoming the well rounded educator I’d like to be. I continue to focus on creating invaluable experiences for your toddler during these critical years.
As I stand in the backyard I hear a child scream “But I’m using that!” I turn around to see LR and MS with both of their hands on a xylophone. My first instinct as someone who doesn’t want any child to get hurt, or really, have any unpleasant experience under my care is to run over and stop the pulling and pushing of the toy between LR and MS thus, ending their argument for them. It is hard for me to ignore my anxious feelings when I hear children having a disagreement, especially when it is physical. After fighting the urge to physically intervene, I was able to quickly step into my educator mode and reflect on the text about observation I had read the previous day. I decided to walk over calmly and crouch down to their level. I allowed LR and MS to push and pull on the toy as they both yelled to/at each other “but I need it!” or “but I was using it first!” As I feel my anxiety level rising I remember that they need this sort of disagreement so that they can figure out how to manage conflict in a safe and healthy way as they grow older. I allowed this to go on for about 20 seconds and then I offered verbal intervention. “I see you both want to use this. Maybe you can share…” They continued to yell at one another. I then said, “You could give each other two minutes…” After hearing my words, LR stopped pulling. He asked MS, “two minutes, ok?” MS replied by letting go of her end of the toy, and went on her way.
Being the educator that I need to be means observing the children during the easy times and the difficult times. It means allowing myself to feel those uncomfortable feelings, but coping as I keep my focus on the children and what experiences they need. Like in the example above, when I allow the children to navigate a conflict on their own, I’m more often than not pleasantly surprised.
Next time your child is having a conflict with another child take a second, and observe them. Observe yourself, and how you’re feeling in that moment. You might learn something about your little one or yourself!