“If a child approaches another child at work, should the teacher protect the child who works? This poses a problem in the teacher’s mind. We must remember that the child comes to school not only to work with the
material, but also to have social experiences. Amongst these social experiences is self-defense. To observe how one child defends himself from another child is interesting. We know that the energies of two children of the same age are more or less of the same intensity. When the teacher disturbs the child, it is like a big animal falling on top of the child. If a lion or a hippopotamus came near us, our nerves could not stand it! However, if another child disturbs him, he is just a comrade, a companion who comes around to help...
“Therefore, if one child goes near another child to grab a pencil, we must wait and see how the child reacts to this interruption. A child who disturbs another child at work may be send away at first, but may return persistently till the first one says, -‘All right, let us do it together!’ The two children may sit next to each other and start to work with the same material; a sort of association may arise between them while working together, helping each other to carry out an exercise.
“On the other hand, the child who is working may not give in. In both cases there has been a social experience, an experience leading to social adaptation. We must consider that if we defend one child from the interruption of another, the child may carry on with this work. However, his interest in the activity may
have been so great that he would have returned to take up the work later on. In the meantime, he would not have had the social experience needed for his character building. If the teacher constantly defended the child, he would never be able to defend himself. It is therefore important for the teacher to observe all that happens in this small world, where individual strengths are more or less equal.”
Montessori, Creative Development of the Child Vol 2, pp.32-33