Summer Blog Book Study: Helping preschoolers learn to resolve and manage conflict

Today is the beginning of our summer blog book study and this year, the focus of our book study is “Challenging Behaviors in the Classroom.”  If you haven’t joined us for our book study in the past couple of years, then be sure to read this post in its entirety to learn all about the book study and to get a taste of the helpful and insightful information that will be coming your way all summer long…

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

There are so many different approaches towards managing challenging behaviors in a classroom setting so instead of choosing one book, each blogger in our study will be sharing insights from a behavior management style book of their choice. At the end of this post you will see a linky of each post as they go live which will help you keep up with the study as we go along…

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

Helping Preschoolers Learn to Resolve and Manage Conflict

To kick off our study, I want to share a few highlights from the recent Bam Radio interview I participated in titled “Helping Preschoolers Learn to Resolve and Manage Conflict” along with an overview of the expert advice shared by the authors: Rae Pica, Karen Stephens, Sandy Heidemann, and Karen Nemeth. To listen to the interview in its entirety, click on the photo below or the links above…

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

No one likes conflict

Let’s face it, no one likes dealing with conflict. Often times, adults rush in and try to solve conflicts as soon as they pop up. But the reality is, young children need to know how to work through conflicts on their own. According to Karen Stephens, not learning to resolve conflict  can lead young children towards  having a problem with over-dependance, fear of failure, isolation, withdrawal, and the effects can lead to more serious issues such as bullying or even problems that can extend all the way up into their adult years.  Although we may not like dealing with conflict, it is important to note that conflict is a natural part of play, growth, and learning for young children and we need to prepare ourselves for how to best guide children through the process of resolving conflict…

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

Let’s Talk About It

There are many causes of conflict that can arise at any given moment so trying to list them all wouldn’t be possible. However, there were a few causes emphasized in the interview that I will make note of. The first one was an inability to communicate effectively. Young children are still building their library of feeling words and according to Karen Stephens, it is important to help young children learn to identify their emotions with words. Feeling statements such as “I’m confused” or “I’m frustrated” are just two examples of giving young children the words to express their emotions verbally rather than physically. Karen Nemeth stresses the importance of using body language and gestures to communicate needs and feelings. Using gestures is especially effective where you might have a language barrier between children or an inability to fully understand the speech of a particularly young child. And finally, learning to appropriately communicate feelings and emotions requires the teacher to model these ideas and not just talk about them…

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors


Consider the Environment

Conflict can also be a product of the environment. For example, large open spaces in your classroom will often lead to young children to getting overly excited or stimulated. Give them a large open space and most likely, they will want to run or play wild. Our experts suggested to save the large open spaces for outdoor play and divide your classroom up into centers and spaces that give children ample room to move about but not so much space that they are tempted to run freely through the classroom…

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

Observing Conflict

In our interview, the experts also talked about the importance of observing conflict before jumping in and trying to solve it. Too often, we as teachers want to resolve conflict quickly. There are many reason for this. One reason may be because we don’t want our students going home telling mom or dad that they didn’t get along with others. We want everyone to alway be happy and to go home happy. Another reason is because it seems like conflict is a deterrent to the learning process but conflict actually plays a valuable role in helping young children build healthy social and emotional skill sets.  However, Sandy Heidemann reminds us that there should be boundaries in place that are unbendable such as no hitting, biting, or other physical conflict and no name calling – period.  Understanding that conflict is a part of natural growth and development will help you learn to observe the conflict and see where you need to model or teach the children to resolve their conflicts or know when the conflicts can be worked out among the children in their own way…

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

A Safe Place

Often times, we think and parents think that a safe place is a place where conflict doesn’t exist. But a safe place really is about creating an environment where parents will know that you have their child’s best interest at heart and the children in your classroom will know that they are a valued member of the classroom community. Everyone involved in the child’s life needs to understand that normal conflict that occurs during play will be a part of your classroom. And because your classroom is a safe place, your students will be learning how to resolve their conflicts through healthy and peaceful strategies rather than avoiding conflicts altogether. Remember, learning to resolve natural conflicts that come up as young children interact with one another is a healthy part of social and emotional development…

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

There were many more tips shared in the interview than I have shared here today so be sure to hop over to Bam Radio if you would like to hear the interview in full.  Later on in the summer, I will be bringing you insights from the book “Managing Emotional Mayhem” by Dr. Becky Bailey and “Beyond Behavior Management” by Jenna Bilmes and my fellow bloggers will be sharing other meaningful tips and suggestions on helping to address challenging behaviors from the resources they have found so be sure to stay tuned-in all summer long!


Our Next Topic 

Be sure to hop on over to Fun-A-Day on June 25, 2014 (Wednesday) and see what she has to share on her first book choice for our Challenging Behaviors Summer Blog Book Study!

Available on Amazon

See the Linky Below

After each post goes live, we will add it to the linky below so you can easily find all the posts and read them whenever you have the time. If you are viewing this post by email, you will most likely need to come to the Teach Preschool Blog to view this post in its entirety and to see the linky…

Apply for College Credits

To learn more about applying the book study towards college credits, click on the link right here!  To read the FAQ’s from Concordia University about the college credit click here!

By |2014-06-23T18:00:44+00:00June 23rd, 2014|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Karen June 24, 2014 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Excellent blog! My co-teacher and I practice the art of being intent listeners, only intervene when necessary. We have a quite room and noisy room between which the children are able to travel independently. I never thought about dividing the large open spaces to help deter running and other less-desirable behaviors. Thank you.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      For us, the division of the classroom is very strategic. If I see that it isn’t helping, then I tweak it here and there. I love that you are intent listeners. Intentional listening skills is an important skills for teacher’s to have!

  2. jackie daniel June 24, 2014 at 9:11 am - Reply

    I want to join the book study. What book do I need and I do not have a blog only an email.

    • Karen @ June 25, 2014 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      We are using multiple books this year. You do not need a blog, just share your thoughts in the comments on each blog post like you did here. 🙂

  3. Patti June 24, 2014 at 9:36 am - Reply

    My assist and I try to model language to help resolve conflicts and I feel we are probably guilty of jumping in too quickly but it seems that it escalates to physical contact so fast. How do you know when to sit back and wait to let them figure it out on their own?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      I think you just have to really know your students and see what they are prepared to handle. One thing you may do is spend more time talking about strategies while the children are in a happy place. So when the children get to the point of needing to resolve a conflict, rather than using that as your teachable moment, you can use it to remind them of the teachable moment and ask them to show you if they can remember what you talked about.

  4. Kerrie June 24, 2014 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Would love to join you for this book study! I am looking forward to learning some new techniques and sharing some information! Kerrie

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      We are so glad to have you join us Kerrie. I hope you are free to check out the next few posts in the series!

  5. Mary Catherine June 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    What a great resource about resolving conflict in preschool! I especially like your point that conflict is a part of life, thus conflict resolution is an important life skill for children to have. I’m looking forward to the rest of this book study!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      Conflicts in life are unavoidable Mary Catherine! Better to build skills along the way than to focus on stopping conflict in its tracks:)

  6. Ginger June 24, 2014 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Has anyone looked into the trainings and most of all the tools provided by CSEFEL at Vanderbilt. (www. I have been through their intensive trainings as a trainer to use in the college setting, ECED. The tools are wonderful and can be adjusted to fit most behavior problems.

  7. Hilarie June 24, 2014 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    I am very interested in joining the study. How do I go about doing that?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 24, 2014 at 11:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Hilarie,
      We will post updates on the blog and on Facebook as the study goes along. This really isn’t something you join. If I am misunderstanding your question, be sure to let me know:)

  8. sandi June 24, 2014 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    i m a greatgrandmother of a 4yr old& 6 yr old. they are half siblings& the older has had a lot of mistreatment & is adjusting to being back in mothers custody. it is hard to know the right way to deal with his emotions. the kids fight& argue all the time & do not listen to their mother. i will be following your blog hoping to find some useful ideas.
    i keep both of them quiet a bit .
    thank you

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 24, 2014 at 11:35 pm - Reply

      I imagine it can be so difficult. I hope that some of the ideas shared will really help to make a difference for you!

  9. Jocelyn June 25, 2014 at 5:14 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for doing this blog training. I am new to teaching and this topic is a very interesting and helpful one for me. I love the idea of splitting up the classroom into more designated play areas. As of now, my room is large and open, and I have noticed this past year that the children do tend to want to run. What ways would you suggest to split the room up? Are you talking movable, physical barriers? We have a dress up area, a block area, etc. but the room is wide open. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Jocelyn,
      There are many ways to break the flow of the classroom such as positioning tables, shelves, easels, sensory tables, light tables, work benches, and so on throughout the room so they create defined areas and cause the children to walk around rather than having a straight pathway from one end of the room to the other. Also carpeted areas that are designated for circle time or block play can help. I recommend you take a look at your room and see how you can shift things around so that they invite the children to flow from one center to the next and break up and running paths along the way. I sure hope that helps clarify a bit for you!

  10. Vanessa @Pre-K Pages June 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for hosting the book study and sharing this valuable information with your readers Deborah! Conflict resolution is such an important skill for young children, it’s one they will use throughout their lives. Articulating and identifying emotions also plays a vital role in conflict resolution.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Most certainly! My grandson and I started reading the book “The Way I Feel” by Janan Cain when he was just a tiny toddler. He liked the big pictures and for each word, I would change the tone of my voice to match the word such as “Surprise” or “Happy” or “Sad”.

      Now that my grandson is three, he uses those words often and I know that much of his vocabulary for these words began with reading that book about a million times!

  11. gladys vega June 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Dear Deborah,
    Can you tell me if there isa way to put this terrific study into a printable format to present as a teacher workshop at my school? We are a Christian school servicing Preschoolers, Pre-K’s and K-2.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Gladys,
      Unfortunately, due to the way this kinds of study works, I don’t have a way to put it all together for you in one package. I am so sorry about that! Perhaps you can create an outline of sorts to share with your teachers.


    • Deb June 27, 2014 at 7:45 am - Reply

      If you actually get that job done, I would love to have access to it. I am a director and teacher of a large Christian preschool and just don’t have extra time right now, but what a valuable workshop this work be.


  12. Karen @ June 25, 2014 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Such a great reminder for parents that your classroom is still a safe place, even though children are working through their conflicts. Thanks for the great tips!

    • Deb June 27, 2014 at 7:46 am - Reply

      I would love to have a good “family letter” to send home to explain conflict in the classroom including the safe environment aspect and letting the children work through their conflict with supervision. Do you happen to have a letter like that?


      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 11:39 pm

        No, I sure don’t but what a great idea! Perhaps you can pull together some ideas from the book study to create a family letter. I think it would be wonderful for parents to come with the understanding that a safe environment includes the process of building skills to handle conflict. It would be a great way to help the parents know how they can support the teacher in the process of building these types of social and emotional skills.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 11:05 pm - Reply

      I think that if everyone understands that the classroom is a safe place to work on the developmental skills needed to handle conflict in a healthy way then parents know that the teacher isn’t put out by the fact that conflicts will happen and is paying attention to it, the parent understands that conflict will happen but understands it is a natural part of learning, and everyone knows that it is a process that needs to be worked on rather than tip toed around.

  13. Joy Lindgren June 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    This fall I will be entering my 3rd year teaching preschool. I will have my own classroom this year which I look forward to. I was intrigued by your suggestion of having small work stations for students. I love this idea and one I will use while setting up my classroom in August. Also, I am guilty of jumping in too quickly to resolve conflict. Being a mother of two young children, this is one area I work on daily. Thank you for the helpful information. I look forward to continue to learn this summer through your blog!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      Being a grandmother of two young brothers, believe me when I say that it is tough not to want to jump in and stop conflict in its tracks. I think you will find the process easier in a classroom setting. For me, the classroom gives me an advantage that I don’t feel I have at home:)

      • Joy Lindgren June 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

        Thank you for your response, Deborah. I am new to this blogging. Am I following this correctly? Will there be a new post each week? Thanks for your input. I just want to clarify I am doing this correctly. Also, I have been following you on Instagram 🙂 Your love towards education and creativity truly inspires me!

  14. Jerindi June 28, 2014 at 12:40 am - Reply

    Dear Deborah & other contributors to this workshop, would it be at all possible to reference your writing as to what books you are using?
    When you make a recommendation of some sort or another I am interested to know which book you are getting this information from because it will help me ascertain which ones I would like to purchase for my library if any.
    To reference as in an academic essay but more informally would be great.
    Thank you for the energy it’s taking you to put this information together for the general public.
    Kind regards

  15. Marissa June 28, 2014 at 2:23 am - Reply

    In the past 2 years of teaching pre-k I have been using the approach, Conscious Discipline, which Dr. Becky Bailey is a big part of. From that I have learned to listen and model for the kids how to manage their behaviors that arise from different conflicts. Creating a room as a safe place has been a huge part of this and I love how simply it was put “that normal conflict that occurs during play will be a part of your classroom. And because your classroom is a safe place, your students will be learning how to resolve their conflicts through healthy and peaceful strategies rather than avoiding conflicts altogether.” I realize this is something I can better express to my parents at the beginning of the year so we can be on the same page and better work together. I’m very excited to learn more from other sources and apply it to my classroom.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 28, 2014 at 3:51 am - Reply

      Yay! I am so glad you found that brief statement helpful as it was kind of a revelation to me last year and I say it often! We will be including some of Dr. Becky Bailey’s work into our study! I can’t wait to learn more too!

  16. Leah June 28, 2014 at 10:11 am - Reply

    Great information

  17. Bonnie July 2, 2014 at 10:47 am - Reply

    I loved Deb’s idea about sending home a letter at the beginning of the year to address the importance of children learning to resolve conflict on their own. I try to wait and let my little ones work things out on their own, but I got a bit of push back from parents this past year. In both cases, the student involved was an only child and the parents felt that I was not doing my job. By the end of this book study, I hope I can put together a simple, one page letter about the importance of children developing this important life skill. Thanks to all of you bloggers for taking the time to put these great resources together for us. I read each one as they come out and then go back to read the comments and responses some time later. Everything has been really helpful!

  18. Clara Utley July 16, 2014 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    This is my first year teaching Pre-K. I’ve taught for 18 years. I have taught older students. I am EC certified though. I did my student teaching in Pre-K–K settings though. I have also raised four children of my own. While in college, I was taught to teach with thematic units and to set up my classroom with centers. I practiced some of this with the older students. I am trying to create a “Meet the Teacher” pamphlet for the parents to distribute on “Meet the Teacher” night. I am looking forward to the “Parent Letter”, that someone will post to get ideas. Thank you, I will enjoy this book study.

  19. Bridget July 28, 2014 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Thank you. Good information. I like to help the children resolve their conflicts. I think it’s interesting that they usually tell the other child that, “It’s O.K.” I like to walk them through a “script” to help facilitate a good way to express their hurt feelings. Things like, “I didn’t like it when you…” “Please don’t….. because….” then I help the other other child respond if they can’t manage it on their own. So many of the children are affraid to voice their feelings.

  20. Rachael March 20, 2017 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Sometimes the shove or the hitting happens so quick and seems like there wasn’t an escalated reason. I’m wondering how to make it clear that there will be no hitting, no biting and no name calling in my classroom.

  21. Darlene Ake October 5, 2017 at 8:53 am - Reply

    We use something call do the turtle. It came with a curriculum we had years ago and I still use it. It comes with a story about the turtle who had a problem with one of his friends and his teacher told him how to control his anger. To do the turtle you cross your arms (make a turtle shell that way you can’t hit anyone) take a deep breath (to calm down) tell the person what they did and how it makes you feel. I also teach my student when the other person says they are sorry do not say it is OK, because what every they did was not OK, you can say I forgive you but don’t do it again, or something like that.

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