E is playing with a ball. he turns it over in his hands, watching how it changes as he manipulates it. He puts it in his mouth. H scoots closer and grabs at the ball. E's brow furrows and he begins to grunt at H takes the bowl from him. He reaches for it, but H holds firm. H pulls it away and E watches him, grunting and reaching for it. H places it on his face. I watch quietly, allowing this first moment of struggle over an item to happen.
E continues to struggle to regain possession over the ball, but soon moves onto a silk that is also nearby. H drops the ball and crawls toward me.
I have noticed through my time of observing infants, that the first steps of possession and acquisition happen once the infants become mobile. This ownership of movement brings their awareness to their relationship to everything in their environment. In our classroom, this means the other infants and the things they are holding. This awareness is the beginning of social interaction. Right now I watch and allow these interactions to play out. Sometimes, I reach a hand in and remind a child about gentle touches. I have found the more practice a child has with early exploration of emotion, interactions with their peers, and even just touching one another the more natural it is for them to be aware of themselves and the effect they have on their environment.
The next step in interactions like this will be for me to narrate what is happening. I do this when it seems right and in the most unobtrusive way possible. It might look something like this:
"E had the ball. H is grabbing for it. I hear you grunting E. It seems like you want to keep it. I see you holding on tightly. H is holding tightly too! Oh look, H pulled it away. Now you're reaching for it E. Man, it seemed like you wanted to keep it. Hi H, you heard me talking? Now E has the silk. He still seems a little frustrated." I keep it without shame, without placing what I think should be happening on the situation, and simply observe. It gives them a basis for creating a new kind of awareness that helps them develop tools to be self confident communicators and emotionally intelligent children.