A conflict is brewing in the housekeeping area—2 children are struggling with the play money in the cash register. I need to leave the room for a moment and ask one of them to join me to keep this from erupting, but both refuse so I take the cash register with me instead. When I get back we have the following conversation:
Me: “How can I help you two?”
Boy: (to Girl) “I want some money”
Girl: “He might take them all! I think this is 36 bucks”
Me (to Boy): “Do you want it all?
Boy: “No. [Can] I have it (to Girl)?”
Girl: “No, not right now”
Boy: (to me) “I want that (pointing to a specific dollar bill)”
Me: “Ask her!”
Boy: (To Girl) “[Can] I have that?”
Girl: “OK.” She gives him some money. “How much is this one? Let me check. How much is it, 36? You can have it!”
Boy: Gives back some of the bills that the Girl has given him.
Girl: With delight: “This has a ‘(First letter of her name)” on it. Thank you!”
After this conversation these two spend about 20 more minutes in the housekeeping area negotiating and paying each other back and forth, without any adult intervention. I wonder what would have happened if I had taken the cash register away or ended the argument without giving each their say. The outcome here was productive play and success in negotiating with a peer. Negotiation: a powerful tool for a three-year-old!