How do preschools handle discipline?

Discipline is an important topic when working with children yet it can be a topic that is minimized or under spoken of by parents when looking for a preschool.

Here are the two methods of discipline in a preschool:

1. time out or

2. conflict resolution

There was an old school theory which still exists with the method being time out. Just search and you can find many schools and parents using this as a way to remove the child from the conflict. While I believe it has its place in the home, in a school setting it can be make a child feel shame for being singled out in a public setting. Conflict resolution suggests that children are educated about the value of communication that is respectful and kind, while expressing feelings of being hurt by someone’s actions. Conflict resolution requires that teachers are trained to help children by modeling communication that is calm and well spoken, where teachers can also interact with children by teaching them how to articulate their feelings.

There are six steps to conflict resolution with preschoolers:

1: approach the children in conflict calmly and stop the conflict

2: acknowledge everyone’s feelings

3: gather information about what happened

4: restate the problem

5: ask for ideas from everyone for a solution and help choose a solution

6: be there for follow and to give support

When you are in a preschool setting ask the teachers how they handle conflict with the children. it is a question that is often overlooked yet one that becomes important as it will effect your child and set the stage for their ability to be social in a school setting.


 Debbie has been an early childhood educator for the past twenty years as a preschool teacher, director and parent educator. She is a member of the National Association of Early Childhood Educators, Pasadena City College’s Advisory Board and a local preschool directors networking group. Debbie is the owner and Director of La Canada Preschool. Her vision is to provide the best environment for children to experience discovery and their sense of wonder at this magical moment in human development.



  1. Greg Wilkin says

    Conflict resolution imposes a process of assessment, mediation, conciliation, compromise and whatever else it takes to minimize dissonance. The goal is always to encourage self-regulation and impulse control, but I’ve seen many occasions when quiet time for reflection is a part of the solution. Or as our dear friend and sage Marly always says quoting Dorothy defending Toto to the Wicked Witch “He’s really very gentle. With gentle people that is.” Also on the topic of discipline see the Sundance documentary Buck.

  2. Marly Wilkinson says

    Debbie and her team at La Canada Preschool treat each other and the children with respect and kindness. You see it in the classrooms, playground and fun activities. The children are engaged and encouraged to socialize, play and deal with building routines and life skills. For most parents the most important element of any preschool experience is trust. The approach suggested by Debbie makes sense to this parent of three children

  3. Olivia V. says

    What a great article. I really enjoyed reading this and liked how it discussed an easy six steps to handle conflict. No one wants to get mad at a preschooler, but through Debbie’s work you can see that she isn’t getting mad, she’s helping a future generation learn their own limitations. She sets up appropriate guidelines and helps by approaching the conflict, acknowledging them, figuring out what to do and what the “real” problem is. At the end, I like how she asks everyone for a solution, she doesn’t just tell the kids what to do. A creative solution to conflict!

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