At Laurelwood Community Preschool, we firmly believe in encouraging self–regulation and social problem solving among peers regardless of the age of the child. We believe by using social problem solving skills we are helping children become productive members of our community by demonstrating positive interactions, appropriate communication skills, and helping them develop empathy and understanding of others’ perspectives.
In her article “Social Problem Solving in Early Childhood Education,” Dr. Michele Beery describes the positive impacts of social competency in young children by saying:
Social development is an ideal complement and avenue to support cognitive content learning in the early childhood curriculum;
Young children need the attention of caring, competent adults to maximize positive social learning potential and to help them make the connection to cognitive content;
Child guidance is about allowing consequences of choices and about teaching children to reflect on their own actions; and,
Social problem solving is a prototype for future cognitive problem solving.
Our General Child Guidance
- Children will receive appropriate verbal praise to help develop intrinsic satisfaction.
- In place of “time-outs,” a child will be encouraged to move away from the aggravating situation until s/he has calmed down.
- We respect the children’s ideas for solving problems, even if the options they offer do not seem fair to us as adults. What’s important is that children agree on the solution and see themselves as competent problem solvers.
- We understand each child is different and unique so one set of guidelines may not work with every child. The Director will work with teachers, the child, and the parents to create a plan for specific circumstances.
Our Guidance for Children Two Years Old
Our teachers encourage cooperation, independence, and respect of self and others at this age but realize the children’s developmental limitations in expressing these ideals. Discipline at this age generally involves redirection and separation as we encourage curiosity and exploration of their new world and playmates. Consistency in scheduling and planning appropriate and adequate activities helps to reduce many toddlers’ frustrations. We acknowledge strong feelings and encourage children to work out solutions together that will work for both of them.
Our Guidance for Children Three To Five Years Old
We expect children to have occasional difficulties with self-control as well as with conflict resolution. Teachers view these as opportunities for children to practice their developing social skills. When children are verbally, emotionally or physically hurtful, we take the following steps until the problem is resolved:
- Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions. The teacher places herself between the children. On their level, she uses a calm voice and gentle touch; she remains neutral rather than taking sides.
- Acknowledge children’s feelings. The teacher says something simple such as, “You look really upset” or “You seem frustrated.”
- Gather information. The teacher will ask, “What’s the problem?”
- Restate the problem. “So the problem is . . . .” The teacher uses and extends the children’s vocabulary substituting neutral words for hurtful or judgmental ones.
- Ask for solutions and choose one together. The teacher will ask, “What can we do to solve this problem?” She encourages the children to think of a solution and asks each child if the suggested ideas work for them.
- Be prepared to give follow-up support. The teacher acknowledges the children’s accomplishments, e.g., “You solved the problem!” She stays nearby in case anyone is not happy with the solution and the process needs repeating.