It got me to thinking about behaviors at home versus behavior at school. I know that boys usually play more aggressively and more physically than girls. My own son has loved to wrestle and rough-house since he was very young, though now he's almost as big as I am and needs reminders to play gentle with Mommie. I watch the boys on the playground play tag, football, capture-the-flag and marvel at the sheer physical stamina they display. Yet, hitting and other physical demonstrations are not acceptable either in my home or in my Montessori classroom and playground.
Peaceful Solutions to Bullying in the Montessori Classroom
Every school I've taught at has had a "Stop!" rule. If someone is doing something to you that you do not like, all you need to do is say "Stop" and the other person is required to stop whatever it is, no questions asked. If the behavior continues, the child is then to come tell a teacher. We tell the children that this is not tattling, but it's to make the teacher aware of the situation so he or she can intervene on their behalf.
Getting a child (or even an adult) to understand that we don't hit (or hit back) can be difficult if they've been taught at home that it's acceptable. We need to explain to them that hitting doesn't work.
- Hitting often doesn't make the problem go away, and in fact, can make it worse.
- Violence only leads to more violence.
- The person hitting back is usually the one who gets caught, not the person that hit first.
- Hitting, even in jest, can cause serious, albeit, unintended injuries.
- Remember the Stop! Rule.
- Find an adult and ask for help.
- Use the peacemaking words and techniques that have been practiced at school (and at home).
- Tell the person you are going to walk away.
- If the situation requires you to defend yourself physically, give a verbal warning "I don't want to fight you, but if you keep pushing me, I will."
- Visit the Peace First website for more information and ideas.
- NAMC's Lower Elementary curriculum manual: Five Great Lessons Cosmic Education & Peace, discusses peace in detail, including conflict resolution.