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Young children who intervene in peer conflicts in multicultural child care centers

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In emotionally uncertain situations — as in conflicts of high intensity — young children rely on their teachers, and teachers often intervene in rows. However, child interventions in peer conflicts are also common. In this paper we discuss child interventions in peer conflicts by 2- and 3-year old children at Dutch child care centers. When children are nearby the conflict the probability of an intervention is 0.29. Support of one of the opponents is the most common intervention behavior. The probability of an intervention becomes higher when the teacher is out of sight and the intervening child is playing with one of the opponents. Older children intervene more often than younger children, and Moroccan and Antillean children intervene more often than Dutch children. The findings are related to the 'Relationship Model' of conflict management of de Waal, theories of cognitive development, and of cultural differences in education.

Affiliations: 1: Behavioral Biology, Department Biology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands; 2: Department of Developmental Psychology, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands; 3: Behavioral Biology, Department Biology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands; Ethology Research, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Rijswijk, The Netherlands


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