Building Resilience within Preschoolers

Building resilience

Throughout this year, we have looked at ways we can help preschoolers build resilience. During their early years, we can give preschoolers the tools they need in order to bounce back when difficulties come into their lives. Resilience is built gradually as preschoolers learn about their emotions and how to get along with others. As we help preschoolers learn to cope with problems at an early age, we give them resources to help them cope with life’s difficulties when these come later in life.

One of the factors that helps preschoolers to build resilience is through the development of problem-solving skills. The process of acquiring problem-solving skills comes as preschoolers learn to identify the problem or difficulty, and then think through two or three ways to solve the problem. This involves both the emotions and the brain as preschoolers learn to handle challenges. The preschooler usually has negative emotions associated with the problem (I’m mad because he took my toy!), but has to think through the options for solving the problem (Hit the other child, grab the toy back, or ask the teacher for help.) Teach problem-solving skills to preschoolers in the following ways.

  • Give choices so preschoolers have experiences in making decisions. The choices will be small at first, as in giving the choice of using orange or red paper for their artwork. Give choices of interest areas in which to play and learn. Offering choices helps preschoolers in looking at the options that are available. This is important in developing problem-solving skills.

  • Encourage positive social skills in preschoolers. Guide them in how to make friends and how to be a friend to others. Teach preschoolers the meaning of the Bible thought, Be kind to each other (see Eph. 4:32).

  • Give preschoolers responsibilities. Preschoolers can learn to clean up the interest areas or help one another. As my preschoolers come in the Mission Friends classroom, I teach them to put their papers and belongings in a cubby. Seems simple, but this helps them to know that they are responsible for their belongings.

  • Help preschoolers remember to use their words. You may have to remind a preschooler, “Ask Kathryn, ‘May I have a turn?’”

  • Ask questions to help preschoolers solve problems. For example, when two are fighting over a toy, you could ask, “How can you work it out so you both can play with the toy?”

  • Read books to preschoolers to help them with problem-solving skills, such as books about being friends. Read Sometimes I Am Afraid, and use the Bible thoughts to help preschoolers know that God is with us and cares for us. Read Always Remember to Pray to help preschoolers know they can talk to God at any time and God will help us.

  • Most importantly, model for preschoolers how to respond to problems. Our preschoolers watch when we are critical or over-react to mistakes or problems. They learn from us as we demonstrate calmness and use problem-solving techniques ourselves.

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