Friday, October 31, 2014

A Tutorial On Conflict Resolution

I've written before about the planks that are among the loose parts in our outdoor space. Lately, we've added a couple of 10-foot long 2"X2" pieces of lumber that the kids have been shifting around, trying to figure out how they want to use them.

Last week Ce and Cl wrangled one of them over to the new playhouse. They schemed between themselves for some time before finally angling it into a precarious position with one end perched on the edge of the upper level of the playhouse and the other on the ground. I think the plan was to then try to climb up it into the playhouse.

Once in place, it was clearly not a good idea, not just from my perspective, but also from that of the girls, who stood, heads together, discussing their next move. As they consulted, F came upon their construction, surveyed it, then lifted the lower end and began attempting to push the whole thing up into the playhouse.

"Hey! We were using that!"

I'm pretty sure F heard them, but was too engaged in her effort to respond.

A little louder, "We were using that!"

This time F turned to the girls and said, smiling, attempting to diffuse their irritation, "I'm helping you."

The two girls have known one another a long time. They took a moment to look at each other as if for confirmation that they were still in agreement, then Cl said, "We want it on the ground."

F answered, her smile disappearing from her face as she began to gird herself for conflict, "But, I want to put it up there."

Cl was firm, lowering her eyebrows, making her face look angry even though I don't think she was really feeling it, "We want it on the ground. There is another one right over there that you can use." She pointed to the second 2"X2" on the ground some feet away.

F ignored her, still attempting to push the whole thing upstairs.

Cl and Ce stood watching F for a moment, before Ce went over to the second 2"X2", dragged it closer and said, "F, you can use this one."

This caused F to stop her efforts. She examined the wood with a skeptical frown, then said, defiantly, "I don't want that one, it's dirty," referring to a few wet leaves that were stuck to it.

Without a word, Ce picked up a broom and swept the leaves away.

Everyone stood in silence for a minute, deciding upon responses. Finally, F said, "Thank you!" And everyone went back to their projects.

This is how to solve problems.

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