Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl is both an internationally renowned scientist researching social and emotional development and a mother of two sons. In this short video clip, Dr. Schonert-Reichl recalls a personal story about an experience one of her sons had in a child care center. It is a familiar story about two preschoolers struggling over toys. The actions of the early childhood educator demonstrates what research now tells us - it is possible to transform conflict and rebuild relationships.
Restorative practices, such as the one this early childhood educator used, emphasize thinking about:
the other person’s perspective and feelings,
what could have been done instead or next time, and
ways to restore or repair the situation.
As Dr. Schonert-Reichl points out, research has shown that when we help young children resolve conflict in this way they eventually internalize the process so that they are able to independently apply peaceful problem solving strategies later in life.
Conflict is bound to happen. Our challenge is to turn it into an opportunity for children to learn.
Researchers Brenda Morrison and Eliza Ahmed published a review of scholarly work related to restorative justice. They write, "restorative justice seeks to harness the power of relationships to strengthen accountability and support mechanisms within civil society."
Children shown a decline in peer conflict over time connected with secure attachment relationships with adults and learned social problem-solving skills.