A new thesis has revealed that when it comes to negotiation, no does it better than a child.
A thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, examined what children negotiate over, how they negotiate and the strategies they use and found that young children are skilled negotiators.
The study looked at children aged two and three. In their negotiations they demonstrated invention, creativity, enthusiasm, industry, involvement, activity and problem-solving strategies. The negotiations have a clear purpose: to agree on both how they can be together in their play and the content of their play.
"A pedagogical consequence of the results is that adults shouldn't intervene too early in children's negotiations. Just give the children time! Negotiations fit in well with the curriculum's talk of children's participation. The fact that children work towards the best solution also ties in well with the idea of democracy in preschool.
"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, " says Torgeir Alvestad.
The thesis also revealed that 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.