Conflict Resolution with Preschoolers 

Posted December 20, 2019

by Roxie Zeller

Many times, conflicts for preschoolers revolve around toys and materials or excluding others. Young children’s usual method of solving these problems tends to be yelling, playing tug-of-war with the toy, or hitting each other — all of which tend to end with an adult  solving the problem and having the final say. It can look silly at times watching children fight over toys. I have often thought to myself, “It would be ridiculous if adults acted like this,” but the reality is some adults do. When they do, I think, “Well this is silly. They are acting like preschoolers.” Watching adults arguing like children is a good reminder to me of why we teach our children to resolve conflicts. 

While in college, I was taught how to help children work through conflicts. First, everyone involved must be calm. Then both children need to tell their sides of the story; they brainstorm solutions, decide on one that works, and finally an adult monitors the situation. This is a very common practice in preschools and in some elementary schools. By having very clear steps, the goal is for children to eventually be able to walk through the step on their own, thus resolving their own conflicts. This method, I think, works well when children need a mediator, or when both parties can remain calm when talking about the problem on their own. It does also give children a great framework to learn the steps needed to resolve some problems. At All Seasons we teach children that in order to solve a problem, you need to be calm, listen to other perspectives and work together to find an acceptable solution (sometimes their solution is not one teachers would choose, but it is acceptable to them). The more time I spend teaching in the classroom, I have learned that although this strategy works well to teach the skills of conflict resolution, it is not the only way that children are learning how to solve problems. 

Many times children learn by watching their peers and adults handle conflicts. Children then apply what they’ve seen when attempting to solve their own problems. As much as children learn from having an adult guide them through a conflict resolution strategy, nothing is as impactful as when children are given a chance to handle things on their own. One thing that I love about All Seasons is how much we trust the preschoolers to handle their own conflicts. We set them up for success by giving them the tools that they need to solve their own problems and often intentions get out of the way. From the first day of school, we tell children that our school rule is “you can’t say you can’t play.” If another child asks to play, they need to offer that child some role in the game. The child who asked to play can choose to join the game in the offered role or play somewhere else. If a child comes to us saying that another child took away a toy, we encourage the child to talk directly to their friend. We might say, “Go tell them that you were not finished with that toy, and that you’ll give it to them when you are done.”  When the child goes back to solve the problem, the teacher monitors from afar, giving the pair a chance to solve the problem on their own. More times than not, preschoolers can resolve it independently. Only when necessary, a teacher steps in.

By giving the children the opportunity to work things out with their peers in a real-life situation, we are setting them up for a lifetime of success. Being able to solve problems that will inevitably arise is a life skill we want our students to carry forward.

Changing the “Gimmies” to an Attitude of Gratefulness and Giving

Posted December 10, 2019

by Jenny Kleppe

It’s that time of year again — the time we hear children say, “For my present, I want….” or  “Can I have that?” or even worse, “I WANT that now!!!” I even witnessed a child at Target the other day clinging for dear life to a tiny stuffed Olaf shouting, “Nothing else will ever make me happy again!!!” Sound familiar? There is a lot of “special” out there this time of year – special events, special treats, special visitors, and so on. No matter what tradition or celebrations your family follows, gift requests, list making, and “the gimmies” seem inevitable during this season.

While I still plan to give my children gifts, what I get the most excited about this time of year is the creating and passing on of family traditions. With a five-year-old and a six-year-old, they are finally old enough to remember traditions and request them. “Remember when we drove around for hours [reality: 30 minutes] and looked for lights and then drank hot cocoa?” asked my son. “Will we decorate cookies with all the frosting and sprinkles?” inquired my daughter. These early years are my favorite time to start the traditions that I want them to recall year-to-year now, and then again when they are grown, possibly even to repeat with their own families someday.

The primary tradition my husband and I want to emphasize this year is a tradition of helping others. We strive to do what we can to take our children’s focus away from the materialism and receiving perspective and center it on service, generosity, thankfulness, and giving. 

This value is important to us, because when my daughter was around 6 months old, my husband found out that he would be laid off shortly after Christmas (and what we didn’t yet know is that we would be having our son join us about 7 months later). I am not certain what we would have done that Christmas, or for the weeks and months following that, had it not been for the generosity of others. We received  food donations from a food shelf, a gas card from our church, grocery cards from others, cash to cover holiday expenses from an anonymous source, and my mother was watching our daughter during the day for free so I could teach at All Seasons and my husband could find the job he still has now. I think back on this stressful time and realize that each of these singular items so generously given may have seemed small, but together they made a sum that truly made the difference for our family.  

Because of this experience, it is incredibly important to our family to give back by “paying it forward” to others in need of a hand up during the holidays. Each act of service, kindness, or generosity, however small, will help build an attitude of gratitude in young children and will certainly benefit others. Having an attitude of gratitude modeled for them or participating in appropriate service projects will also  help them see a bigger picture of the world and focus a small bit of their attention on helping others. 

Children shared what they were thankful for in a classroom project


This is no small feat. It can feel impossible, especially with relatives constantly asking my children, “What do you want?” There are so many things vying for our attention as parents this time of year, and working towards an attitude of gratitude can be as simple or involved as you want to make it. It could be a part of a daily prayer or dinner conversation asking your child, “What are you thankful for today?” or “How did you help someone today?” It is vital that parents model this with their own brief answer, such as “I held the door open for someone who was carrying something heavy,” or “I bought the coffee for the person in the car behind me in the drive through.” 

Children working on a thankfulness project with Seniors.

Your family can also take further steps toward a tradition of generosity and giving by participating in a family-friendly service project together. What a tradition to start or to get excited about! My family started doing this last holiday season, and the result was surprisingly successful. My children even asked if they get to pick out presents again for children who might not get other presents. Get your children interested in a service project by focusing on things they can understand, using clear and concise language, and participating in something hands-on in which children can take a role.

Here is a list of ideas of ways your family can turn that “What do you want” question into “What can we do for others?” 

  • Make a list of your family’s favorite foods/meals. Go shopping for the needed items to make these and then donate to your local food shelf. Here are a few:
  • The Sheridan Story is an organization that provides meals to children in the Twin Cities who qualify for free and reduced lunch over the weekend or when they are not in school. You can donate money or sign up to pack meals into discrete backpacks. Learn more at
  • Feed My Starving Children is an organization dedicated to providing nutritious meals to children worldwide.  Learn more or sign up to pack meals as a family at
  • Take your child shopping for a small gift for someone else: a sibling, a grandparent, a parent. Ask them to really think about what the other person might like!
  • Have your child circle items in a toy catalog or ad and then they pick one out to purchase for Toys for Tots.
  • Help shovel the sidewalk in front of a neighbor’s house or a neighbor’s driveway.
  • Encourage your child to say “thank you” to cashiers, servers, baristas, postal workers, etc. when they accompany you on errands.
  • Draw holiday pictures or make cards for the seniors here at Inver Glen.
  • Draw pictures or make cards for soldiers and service men and women serving abroad over the holidays.
  • When you are shopping for pet supplies, have your child pick out treats, food, or toys for pets in shelters- nearly every pet store has a donation box by the entrance this time of year.
  • Encourage children to put allowance, piggy bank money, or other small coins into the Salvation Army kettle.
  • Ask your child to help make a list of things they can do to help your family or others- their answers may surprise you!