Dialogue

Resolving conflicts in the kindergarten

A kindergarten is a place where many people meet – children, their parents, teachers, the executive branch of the preschool. Because of that, even though all of them have the same aim of the development and welfare of children, conflicts can arise. About how to resolve them, talks the manager of the private preschool “Creakids”, Daina Kājiņa, and a mediator Ilze Ābelniece. 

 

For those, who are not familiar with the concept of mediation – it is a voluntary process of cooperation between the both parties involved in the conflict, where they try to reach a compromise, with the help of an objective third party. 

Daina Kājiņa highlights, that mediation is one of the best tools on how to resolve conflicts in the education system, because it helps to bravely look on different situations and find the best solutions for them. “It is a way, how to actually find solutions, rather than avoid and distance yourself from the problem and think that the whole world is guilty.” 

 

Conflict situations in kindergartens 

The most common reasons for conflict situations between teachers and parents are tied with behavioural problems coming from their children and any crass differences in the child’s attitude/behaviour. In these kinds of situations parents can turns against the teachers, the kindergarten and other parents. And sometimes it can seem as though the kindergarten is making their own coalitions, while the parents of the child – their own. It is natural to think that everything is perfectly fine with your child and the problem lies somewhere else. 
Mediator Ilze Ābelniece says, that it is a lot easier to resolve an issue, if it is done quickly, rather than waiting until the situation has escalated. But it is not always possible to resolve is right there in the class, because sometimes the parents are ready to listen to what the teacher or the other parents want to say. The teacher can try to talk about the problems she has noticed, but the parents can treat is as it is not something important. That is why it would be great, if all of the affected parties could agree upon a time and a place, where they can meet and discuss what has happened. And that is when they can truly understand, what is the child’s situation at home, what is it in the kindergarten and what are the best ways how to help him or her and what are the real needs and interests. 
Sometimes the parents can disregard what the teacher says =, because the child acts completely different at home, and maybe that is because the child has problems with being around children his or her age. 

Important information 
As behavioural disorders are understood child’s aggression against other children and themselves, problems with paying attention and concentration, stepping over the line, socially unacceptable actions. As helplessness from the child’s side it is understood that he or she understands that what they are doing is wrong, but they can’t stop it. 

 

The process of conversation
Mediation is a room, place and time, where it is easier to talk about the things, that are uncomfortable to talk about, while being in a class or just quickly passing by. It is incredibly important to give the chance for the parents to understand, that the teachers and the executive branch of the preschool are interested in the welfare of the child and they really want to help. 
When hearing that, parents can feel relieved, and because of that – more open and honest. Then they understand that it is not an attack, but an invitation to let others help. “At the start of the conversations no one is better or smarter. Every parent is interested in their child and want the best for them. But the teachers as well, while doing the best they can at their job, are interested in the fact, that the child feels good and has an appropriate environment to develop. Mediation is an excellent tool how to quickly reach a compromise that is good for everyone. Yes, mediation isn’t always easy, usually multiple conversations are needed, to see a positive dynamic, however positive results are unavoidable,” says Daina Kājiņa. 
As a positive by-product of mediation Ilze Ābelniece mentions the diminishment of negative stereotypes the parents have about the kindergarten, that come from their own negative childhood experiences. 

 

The achievement of mediation - cooperation
When coming to the kindergarten, usually there are no signs that the child needs special integration, but the teacher has to keep in mind that these signs can come up any time, starting from discovering different allergies, to discovering different mental abnormalities. Experiences shows, that sometimes, when some issues surface. Both the parents and the teachers have tried to help the child, but they haven’t succeeded because these actions have not been synchronized. When in the process of mediations everyone understands each other’s investment and finally synchronize their actions, positive results and unavoidable. 
In the process of mediations both parties together can cone up with four different things, that they, as the adults, can do, but it is important to remember, that they won’t always work, because there are many variations of what can be done, and some of them work, and some don’t. This understanding creates a sense of calm, because there is something that can be done, but the right way has to be found. An important part is dividing responsibility – what can be done at home, and what can be done in the kindergarten. 

 

Knowledge about mediation for preschool managers? 
In this day and age it is normal that a person cant know everything, so mediation is a good way, how the manager of the kindergarten can be involved in the process without being an authority. 
If the manager has done the training for mediation, they still cant be the mediators in the conflict that has taken place in the kindergarten, because they are one of the involved parties – the mediator has to be someone objective from the outside. But the gained knowledge can be used in a successful day-to-day communication with the children, parents and employees. 

By the way!
The methods of mediation can be used in the classroom as well, and be used between the children, for example, asking the question “why?’, rather than assuming that the adults know the answer themselves. 

 

A valuable tip for a successful result of the conversations!
It is understandable, that parents can get very emotional, while talking about their children. And the teacher, when facing difficulties, can become emotional as well. However, there is a method that can be used before the conversation that helps to put emotions aside and loo at the facts. 
If the teacher notices that one child does something different than the other children all the time, then it is important for the teacher to make notes, so the dynamic can be judged objectively, in situations, where unwanted behaviour in noticed. When having these notes, the teacher can come to the mediation with statistics and facts, which helps to see things clearer and without emotions. 

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