Social Problem Solving With Toddlers

A step-by-step strategy to help toddlers work through challenging social situations

Playing together is not always easy for young children. That’s because they are just beginning to develop the skills needed to solve problems with others. This strategy highlights three key steps for supporting social problem solving with toddlers.

Hallmarks of This Strategy

1. Recognize the problem

Narrate children’s actions and emotions to help them recognize when a problem occurs.

2. Model and encourage a solution

Propose solutions and allow children to choose how they would like to solve the problem.

3. Acknowledge children’s efforts

Let children know their actions helped solve the problem for everyone.


Introduction: Supporting Positive Peer Relationships

In this video, we explore the reasons why conflicts may happen in the classroom and introduce the three steps for social problem solving.


Scenario 1: Sharing Trains

In this scenario, two toddlers need some guidance and support to share a set of trains fairly. Observe how the educator uses the three steps for social problem solving to guide children to a workable solution.


Scenario 2: Taking Turns

In this scenario, two children are having a hard time taking turns with some tools. Observe how the educator models and encourages multiple solutions to help the children take turns with classroom materials. 


Scenario 3: Trading Chairs

In this scenario, one child becomes upset when another child has taken her seat. Notice how the educator helps the children navigate this unexpected conflict in a positive and supportive way.