Teacher Interventions in the Peer Conflicts of Preschool Children: The Effects of Children's Age and Conflict Behavior

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The frequency, latency and strategies of teacher intervention in the peer conflicts of 2, 3, and 4 year-olds were examined in relation to the age of children and their conflict behaviors in the naturalistic classroom setting during freeplay time. 400 children from 25 classrooms (eight 2 year-old, nine 3 year-old, and eight 4 year-old classrooms) were videotaped for up to two 5-minute time blocks. Only the first peer conflict event generated by each target child observation was included in the analysis. Of the 400 children observed, 322 generated a conflict event. Teachers intervened in 31.4% of these events. While the issues, insistence and resolution of conflict significantly changed with children's age, the incidence and escalation of conflict, as well as child solicitation of teacher assistance did not. Although significant age effects were found for the frequency and latency of intervention, teacher intervention strategies were not affected by the children's age or specific child conflict behaviors. Mediation strategies were infrequently used, especially with 4 year-olds. Additional analyses revealed that teachers ' level of education and the NAEYC accreditation status of the centers are significant predictors of teacher strategy. Problems for future investigation are described.