Young children have strengths, too!

Jul 15, 2015
Young children have strengths, too!

My daughter is a first-grade teacher. One year, there was one little girl in her class who really gave her a run for her money. Constantly interrupting during circle time, putting her nose in other people’s business, being bossy, just generally behaving like a child in need of love and attention.

About midway through the year, we were talking about the difficulties she was having with classroom management, primarily because of this one child. We talked about different approaches and she tried many – some worked, some didn’t. But here’s one that did…

I asked my daughter, “What are this child’s strengths?” She replied that she had a strong sense of justice and fairness and she was interested in other people, among other things.

We came up with the idea of giving this little girl the classroom job of “Conflict Manager”. When other children were having an argument or fight, rather than going to the teacher, they were first supposed to go to the Conflict Manager for help.

She would listen to both sides of the story and decide how to resolve the issue. If the children with the problem were not satisfied with the result, or if the problem was too big, they could then take it to the teacher. The Conflict Manager had a timer and she was only allowed to give each child one minute to speak and then she would help with a resolution, so the disruption to her own school work was minimal.

It worked pretty well! She had this job for the rest of the school year. It gave her a chance to work on her strengths, satisfied her need to ‘be in the know’, and gave her a role in the classroom community. It also helped other children learn to express themselves in the heat of conflict and listen to one another.

Fast forward a few years… this little girl is growing up and blossoming. And even though they now live in different cities, she regularly calls her first-grade teacher, the one who looked past her loud, demanding, pushy behavior to see her strengths and gifts. The teacher figured out a way to nurture those strengths, giving a little girl who was unknowingly making others NOT want to be her friend, an important role in the classroom community. And it made a difference.

Recognizing each child’s strengths and nurturing them, this is one way to be kind to children.

Take our Positive Guidance course to learn how you can help children manage their behavior and emotions and function as a classroom community!

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