Torgeir Alvestad, a researcher from the University of Gothenberg in Sweden, has written a fascinating thesis paper based on studying the play of two and three-year olds. He finds that children this age are able to negotiate during play. In these negotiations they demonstrated invention, creativity, enthusiasm, industry, involvement, activity and problem-solving strategies.
The results show that children’s negotiations form part of their play, and that these negotiations have a clear purpose: to agree on both how they can be together in their play and the content of their play.
The results of the study show that young children’s negotiations during play vary, depending on whether the negotiations originate in agreement or disagreement. In negotiations that stem from agreement – in other words the children are agreed that they will share their play – the play features efforts by the children to understand their friends’ perspective as well as playful development of the imagination. However, negotiations arising from disagreement involve play that is more about power, domination and manipulation.
“A pedagogical consequence of the results is that adults shouldn’t intervene too early in children’s negotiations,” says Alvestad. “Just give the children time! Negotiations fit in well with the curriculum’s talk of children’s participation. “What’s more, adults shouldn’t intervene thinking that there’s a conflict between the children, as it is frequently a negotiation that’s happening, which requires a different approach.”
University of Gothenburg (2010, June 24). Young children are skilled negotiators, Swedish research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/06/100621101206.htm