When your child starts preschool, you will naturally be worried about how well they will settle and whether they will enjoy the preschool experience. It may be the first time they have been out of your care, and your child may also be worried about making friends and learning how to deal with new situations as they arise.
Experiencing conflict in preschool is normal, as conflict is a normal part of life that everyone experiences on some level. The difference between your child experiencing conflict in preschool and you experiencing conflict with a co-worker in your workplace is that you have learned the tools required to successfully navigate past conflict and understand how to put healthy boundaries in place and seek help if required.
Your preschooler has all of these skills to learn, and sharing space with lots of other rambunctious, tenacious, opinionated preschoolers is a great way to start learning conflict resolution skills. Here are some ways you can support your child to develop the skills they need to navigate conflict in the preschool environment:
Discuss Boundaries Ahead Of Time
Before your child starts preschool, discuss boundaries in a light-hearted, informal way. You don't want to make your child feel anxious, but it's important they understand what's expected of them and what they should expect from others. You may want to talk about how a lot of rules at home should also be adhered to at preschool, such as taking turns, privacy in the bathroom and using kind, respectful language. Ask your child if there's anything they're concerned about, and discuss the importance of listening to other people's feelings and opinions even if they differ from your child's.
Give Them The Words
Don't assume your child will know what to say to another child when conflict arises. It's likely you have intervened in many conflict scenarios up until this point, so they've never had to take care of these types of problems themselves. Discuss common areas of conflict in a preschool environment, such as having a toy taken from them, being pushed or being called an unkind name, and give them short sentences they can use to deal with these situations and feel empowered.
Help Them Identify A Safe Person
Most conflicts at the preschool stage are minor and easily resolved between the children, but if there is ever a situation where your child feels unsafe, they need to know what to do. Ensure they understand they can go to any member of staff in the preschool with their problem. Help them to feel confident doing this by including them in discussions with a few members of staff where you verbally confirm they are happy for your child to go to them if they have a problem.
Giving your child some tools to manage conflict will help them feel secure and settled in their preschool, and you can also give yourself some peace of mind by discussing the preschool's conflict resolution and child safety policies with a member of staff. For more information about preschools, contact a facility near you.