Social Problem Solving

With our support, children can work together to find solutions to their problems

Conflicts between peers are typical in most preschool classrooms. At this age, children are still learning to understand how their actions affect others, so it is hard for them to come up with fair solutions to their conflicts.  It’s our role to practice and teach problem-solving skills and then support children as they navigate handling problems.

The problem-solving steps outlined in these modules are based on resources from the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI).

Hallmarks of This Strategy

Be Proactive

Find ways to prevent common conflicts. Can you expand popular centers or add more of an often-fought over toy? How can you minimize the time children are waiting?

Practice Problem Solving

Teach children social problem-solving skills in advance through books, puppets, games, or discussions. These can give them the tools they need to find solutions in the moment.

Give Children an Active Say

When challenging moments come up, support the problem-solving process by giving children an active say in how they might solve a problem.  

VIDEO 1

Teaching Social Problem Solving in Advance

In this lesson, we cover tips for explicitly teaching problem-solving skills in engaging and meaningful ways. 

VIDEO 2

Supporting Social Problem Solving in the Moment

In this lesson, we explore ways to support problem-solving skills in the moment when children encounter challenging social situations.

IMPLEMENT THIS STRATEGY

Social Problem Solving

Guide to Promoting Problem Solving

Learn more about this strategy and its importance, and learn tips for trying it in your classroom.

Family Guide to Supporting Problem Solving with Others

Share this guide with families to communicate the strategies you're using at school. Take time to make connections between how children are supported at home and in the classroom.

Additional Resources

NCMPI Problem Solvers Cover

NCPMI

A Problem-Solving Toolkit

These downloadable resources are a great way to help your students become super problem solvers.

three girls playing with dolls

NAEYC

Consider Context and Culture

Problem solving can look different across classrooms, situations, and cultures. Explore culturally appropriate ways to resolve conflicts between children.

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EARLY CHILDHOOD INVESTIGATIONS​

A Teachable Moment

Nadia Jaboneta shares her experience using a peer conflict as an opportunity to promote equity and social justice.