This week we began reading stories and having conversations that focused specifically on friendship and feelings. We observed that many of the conflicts emerging between the children were rooted in routine disagreements or misunderstandings that quickly escalated. We recognize conflict as inherent to all relationships and welcome it for the opportunities it provides for important social learning and skill building. In this case, we saw that we needed to focus more on the idea of perspective taking, including:
– What does it mean to agree? What does it mean to disagree?
– Can two people feel differently about the same thing? What does this mean for their relationship?
– What is the relationship between intent and impact of our words and actions? What do we do when our intent does not align with our impact?
These are big and complex topics (even for adults!) but we did not want to shy away from beginning to tackle them with the kids. We have done much of this via literature, as it is often easier for kids to see and understand these ideas when they’re presented in this format. Two titles were particularly effective:
Pig and Small tells the story of a large pig and small bug who form an instant bond, but soon realize their size disparity makes it hard for them to share activities. Initially dismayed at what this means for the prospect of their friendship, they realize there are many activities they can do despite their size difference and that certain experiences are best left for other friendships.
Mouse & Giraffe is a similar story, again using a clear and tangible difference between the characters to help illustrate their different perspectives. This time, the two characters do not see eye-to-eye, literally and figuratively, causing disagreement after disagreement. Eventually, they learn how to see the world from the other’s perspective and recognize that, regardless of their differences, they can still share kindness with one another.
We will continue this exploration and are excited to see how the kids respond!