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How to Step In…

Here are some general ideas for dealing with difficult play situations.

  • If children are doing something dangerous, then stop them, saying “I’m afraid someone will be hurt. Let’s try (suggest an alternate activity.)”
  • If someone is hitting, pushing, or kicking, then stop the child and ask, “Are you trying to tell __________ something?” Make it clear that it is okay to be angry, but we cannot express anger by hitting, biting, kicking, etc.
  • If you need to tell children not to do something or to censure behavior, then start by giving a gentle, clear explanation, and then make your warnings more severe if they don’t change. For example:
    • 1st warning: “John, for this activity we want the dinosaurs to stay at this table.”
    • 2nd warning: “John, please keep the dinosaurs on this table. We need them for this activity.”
    • 3rd warning: “John, if you take the dinosaurs away from the table again, you will have to leave the table – without a dinosaur!”
  • If children are having trouble doing a task or routine, show them how to manage and describe what you are doing. For example: “There are a lot of us washing our hands at one time. I can share my sink and soap. Angela, would you like to share my place?”
  • If you think a particular unpleasant behavior is designed to get your attention, then you can ignore it. This avoids reinforcing undesirable behavior.