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The PLAN For Peace Starts Here! The Exact Words To Say To Teach Toddlers To Problem-Solve

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

Imagine if...

  • Every human being learned to problem solve instead of looking for someone else to blame in tough situations.

  • Every human being took the time to learn about individual people before lumping them into categories based on bias.

  • Every human being used nonviolent communication and collaboration instead of bullying, shaming, and controlling others in order to get what they want.

I think most of you would agree. That would be an improvement over the chaos that surrounds us lately and only seems to be getting worse.

The question to consider isn't whether a less violent world would be a better world, but rather what would be the best plan to get there. Science says to start as early as possible.

In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, which allows brain circuits to become more efficient. In light of these findings, focusing on early childhood only makes sense. -Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University-

There's a lot of research and literature on early childhood education out there, yet given the magnitude of our responsibilities to our youngest, not nearly enough. I'm here to encourage parents and early childhood teachers everywhere to use the research that's available to create the best possible experiences for our youngest children.

Since you're here, reading this, I know you're interested and probably using many positive strategies already. But just like me, you're always looking for more and better ways.

In Ghosts From The Nursery (1997 p. 146), Karr-Morse and Wiley suggest we focus on the period from 10-18 months to prevent violence since that's when the connections are made between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic systems.

During this time, the child's brain learns to modulate stress. As an educator with 43+ years of experience, I agree.

I’m not a complainer or a whiner so when I look at all of the problems in society I try to think of what I can do personally to make it a little bit better. That’s why I chose early childhood education as my career despite the obvious pitfalls.

In my early childhood experiences, I teach:

Problem-solving instead of blame, Learning about individuals instead of lumping them into categories,


Non-violent communication instead of bullying.

I’ve spent many years trying to boil these concepts down to simple, caring words and phrases that help toddlers practice these concepts. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. That’s because I pay attention to my PLAN! Here’s one example that teaches problem-solving.

When I see toddlers struggling over a toy or trying to snatch a toy I say these words.

It looks like you have a problem. Let’s solve it!

When I leave out the blame, they learn to do the same. That’s not just a theory, it works in real-life toddler situations. Toddlers make mistakes quite often. Looking for blame doesn’t help but solving the problem together does!

That's because children do what we do, not what we say.

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading this! You're helping to create a more peaceful world.

Reflection: When is the best time to build empathy in humans? Why?

assignment: Practice problem-solving with no blame with at least 3 different people. How did it work? How did you feel during the process?

If you want to learn more about early childhood, check out our homepage, here.

Early Childhood Rocks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the world through early childhood education

Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! (click on the word) She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.


“Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 4 Dec. 2017,

Karr-Morse, Robin, et al. Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence. The Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013.

Rosenberg, Marshall B. Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships & Your World in Harmony with Your Values. Puddle Dancer, 2003.

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