We’re often asked how we handle discipline in the classroom. This article, written by our preschool teacher Leslie Szumowski, shares our philosophy on discipline and gives excellent tips on teaching children conflict resolution skills.
Our priority is to provide a safe nurturing environment. Conflicts will arise when children interact in a classroom setting.
These conflicts are important teachable moments for all the children, even those who are not involved in the conflict.
Discipline is about helping children learn appropriate behavior. Our focus at school is teaching appropriate behavior.
Punishment is used to “make children pay for what they did; it is designed to shame and make a child feel guilty. We do not punish at school.
Redirection: Giving the Child an Alternative
Redirect and give the child an alternative. Telling them what you want them TO DO, instead of what NOT to do, helps them be successful.
If a child is drawing in a book, gently take away the book and give them a piece of paper. Say, “Books are for reading; paper is for drawing.”
If a child is throwing blocks, help them move away from the blocks and find a ball. Say, ”Blocks are for building–you can throw a ball.”
If a child is running inside, try saying, “Please walk inside,” instead of, “Don’t run.”
Conflict Resolution for Preschoolers
Our goal is to teach children to handle their own conflicts, refine communication skills and promote empathy for others.
1. Stay calm. Get down onto the children’s level and make sure you have their full attention.
2. Let them know you understand their feelings. Describe what you see: “I see Tommy is crying.” Or, “You both look upset.”
3. Find out information. Ask “what” (not “why”) questions to find out what happened to make them upset. All you have to say is, “What happened?”
4. Repeat what you have found out. Use clear statements to retell what you heard them say: ”You are saying you both want this toy?”
5. Ask for ideas to solve the problem. Have the children offer ideas and solutions to the problem. “What can we do to make you both happy?” A very common conflict occurs when a child takes a toy from another child. You can suggest to the child who took the toy that they ask the other child if they can have it when they are done.
6. Acknowledge that they solved their problem. “Thanks for working together and finding a solution!”
Do not get caught up in what you think is fair, who had it first or who is right–if the problem is solved and each are satisfied, that’s great! Your child will not be too passive in life because she let someone have a toy first, but she maybe more flexible and easy going!
By Leslie Szumowski