Ouch! That hurts!
As daycare workers, it is common to witness conflicts among children which lead to aggressive behaviour. Unfortunately, these occur regardless of the fact that interventions are regular and constantly adapted to the children. It is difficult to understand why they surface so frequently. Daycare workers need not doubt their capacities. The reason behind these acts is simply that pushing or hitting seem most effective to children. Think about it, when children push or hit their peers, they immediately receive their daycare worker's attention and, at the same time, feel they got their message across to the "victim". Of course, this is not the ideal method to do so, which is why teaching alternatives is such an important task.
The activities suggested here will give daycare workers tools to help children channel their aggression. Children accumulate various frustrations throughout the day and must be given the chance to evacuate them in an acceptable fashion. When the need to express their frustration is met, children are more capable of controlling themselves when a conflict arises. Who knows, doing so may discourage children from taking a peer hostage next time!
Here is an activity which is highly appreciated and which corresponds particularly to boys' needs. Allow children to have a fight. Establish precise rules which must be followed. Use tape to predetermine a fighting zone on the floor. Teams of two children can then enter the zone and use noodles (long foam cylinders used in pools) to fight without the risk of harming each other. Fighting is not always bad and under proper supervision, it can even be fun!
Children can also take part in battles using various objects. These can be done in teams. There is, of course, the traditional snowball fight. It can easily be imitated with balls of paper, rolled up socks, soft balls, or sponges. Close supervision is required to ensure this is a positive experience.
During winter months, snow can be a useful ally for more "physical" games. Snow is an ideal shock absorbent. I love having children play "King of the Mountain". Daycare workers simply sit at the top of the mountain and attempt to prevent the children from reaching the top using various tricks and surprises. Fun for all!
Offer children a carpentry activity. To keep this safe, use foam planks which can be found in renovation stores. Golf tees can be used for nails. Children are free to bang on the golf tees with hammers without the usual noise.
Help children adopt proper behaviour when faced with a conflict by guiding them to visualize the steps involved.
Draw a nose and write "Breathe and stay calm"
Draw a mouth and write "Use your words"
Draw an ear and write "Listen to what your friend has to say"
Draw a hand and write "I'm sorry for..."
This step by step solution for conflicts is taken from a book entitled Techniques d'impact au préscolaire, edited by Académie Impact.
I feel that aggressive behaviour should be redirected. Requesting that children hug their "victims" is not always appropriate. "Victims" often do not want to be hugged by children who have just pinched or pushed them. Instead, attempt to explain to children that there are objects which we can hit if we feel the need to do so but that friends should never be bullied or "attacked". Why not create a large foam hand which children can hit or use as a punching bag when frustration mounts? These can be found in stores but are simple to make. Simply hanging a beach ball from the ceiling or placing a pillow in a garbage bag and sealing it with tape will do the trick.
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