The Children’s House and Elementary children are encouraged to problem-solve and are taught conflict resolution skills early on. If needed, the adults in the class act as mediators for the children in conflict. Each child is asked to state his or her side of the story. The children are encouraged to use “I” statements and “feeling” statements and
are asked to listen as each speaks. They can be prompted if it is helpful:
“When you _______, I felt_______ . Next time I would like you to _________ .”
The adults clarify the situation if necessary and then ask each child for suggestions of how they feel the problem could be solved. The goal is to come up with a solution that is acceptable to all parties involved.
The conflict resolution process may happen quite spontaneously and casually; at other times it will take time to get to a resolution. Occasionally, the teacher may incorporate the use of a “peace rose” or “peace area.” This is a ritual object or place that helps bring meaning to the commitment to solve the conflict in a peaceful way. As the children move into their kindergarten or elementary years, they may choose to use these rituals on their own without adult intervention.
Occasionally, no solution can be reached, and the teacher may have the children work apart from each other for a little while and encourage them to try to problem-solve later. This can give them the space they need to cool down.
Above all, the adults are compassionate and consistent. Talking quietly and reminding the children of the steps they can take to get to a resolution is empowering to the children. Often, clarifying the ground rules, offering choices, or setting a reasonable limit to behavior can solve the problem. Children are the happiest when they are doing
something at which they can succeed. To insure success, the teachers become keen observers of each child. These observations are used in preparing the environment to alleviate areas of conflict. The developmentally appropriate and beautifully prepared Montessori classroom creates an atmosphere in which children seldom have difficulties