Learning to get calm and solve problems

Your preschooler may be ready to begin solving his own problems with your help. The more he can practice, the better he will be at solving problems with you and others, both now and in the future.

Get calm

When your child has a conflict with you, calm yourself and him before you try to solve the problem. He will have an easier time calming down if you aren't upset. If you find it hard to stay calm.

Name his emotions, show you understand, and limit any behaviour that is harmful to him or others. Once you and your child are calm, work together to solve the problem.

  • Calming down

    Your preschooler may want to calm down with you, near you or away from you. Every child is different.

    If he needs to calm down away from you, help him think of a safe, comfortable place to go before a conflict happens. It needs to be a place that is okay for both of you.

Solving problems

Remember that your child is learning. He is just starting to be able to predict what will happen if he acts in certain ways. Try to understand what he might be feeling and thinking. Then talk about how to solve the problem. Give him a chance to think of his own solutions.

  • Steps for problem-solving

    1. Describe the problem without blaming or judging anyone (e.g., “You’re disappointed because you wanted to wear your green socks, but they're at grandma’s house.”).
    2. Think of different solutions together. Ask, “How do you think we could solve this problem?” or “What do you think we could do about that?”
      • Respond to all ideas—even ideas that sound silly.
      • Add some of your own.
    3. Decide together on the best solution that works for both of you. Try it out.
    4. Talk about how well it worked. If it didn’t work well and the problem is still there, try another solution from your list.
    5. When a similar problem happens again:
      • notice and comment if your child comes up with his own solution
      • remind him of how you solved the problem together in the past if he can’t think of any ideas
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