R was on my lap, sprawled out, shaking while he cried. I pushed on his legs and arms, while he squeezed my hands as hard as he could – methods we use to help R when he is upset. Meanwhile L sat in the corner of our playhouse, rubbing his eyes, and trying to not become upset as he knows he is about to need to defend himself. When they are all calm, after hearing a tale from my childhood about a time my sister broke something I had been working on, they shared why they were upset.
R had place a single strip of tape over the air vent, because he was cold and wanted less air. He had then walked away.
L saw it, and because he was feeling warm and wanted more air, he took the tape off.
The tape has zero effect on the air flow or the temperature in the room.
This conflict, to my adult brain, is irrelevant. Or at least, not worth the 15 minutes it took to calm down.
But I sum up the conflict for both R and L, and ask them how they can solve their problem.
L suggets, “R can cover up one vent, but not that one. He can cover up the vent up high.”
R’s face lights up, and he jumps up and down in excitement.
“Oh I am so happy you could solve your problem.” I say.
Then I turn around and roll my eyes.
Yes, I roll my eyes.
The number of conflicts I mediate throughout the day that make little to no sense to me is astronomical. I sometimes find myself telling the children that it is a small problem and to move on.
Regardless, I remind myself that these conflicts aren’t small problems to them, and these conflicts are in fact invaluable. These conflicts give them a way to practice life skills that will benefit them later in life, when solving with much more complicated problems.
These small problem conflicts lead the way to developing emotional regulation, an ability to listen to another person’s perspective, an understanding that different people need different things and a desire to find a way to reach every bodies needs.
Being heard when upset during small problem conflicts tells them that it is always okay to share how they feel, to stand up for their rights, to expect to be listened to and have their needs and feelings honored.
So I will continue to honor these small problem conflicts.
And I will continue to roll my eyes when I leave the room.