For our children’s social and emotional development during their preschool years, it’s imperative to guide them in managing conflicts and nurturing positive social skills. Preschool plays a vital role as they establish connections, discover their emotions, and develop empathy for others. During this time, they start to grasp the consequences of their actions and this learning often involves navigating conflict with themselves and others.

Promoting positive social skills during these early learning years supports children in creating meaningful connections with others. These skills include sharing, taking turns, cooperation, and kindness.

We’ve put together four practical ways to empower your preschoolers in managing conflict and developing healthy bonds with their peers.

1. Empathy and perspective-taking

Positive social interactions rely on empathy, and we can help our preschoolers understand others’ feelings while they learn to recognise and express their own emotions. Construct a feelings chart featuring different emotions represented by various facial expressions. At varying times throughout the day, ask your preschooler to pinpoint the face that mirrors their emotions. This can enhance their emotional awareness and expression. Discussing the range of emotions and using resources like age-appropriate books can spark discussions about their perceptions of a story character’s emotional state. They can explore moments they had similar feelings, and this builds the connection to “putting themselves in other peoples’ shoes”.

2. Open and respectful communication

Verbally expressing themselves can be a struggle for preschoolers, often causing frustration and conflicts. A good strategy is teaching them to use “I” statements such as expressing “I feel sad when you take my toy”, instead of resorting to aggressive behaviour. It helps them communicate their needs and concerns without blaming or attacking others. Through respectful communication, children learn to realise the impact their words have on others. As role models, we can show how to express emotions in a healthy, positive way that builds bonds, not destroys them. This forms the foundation for building positive relationships grounded in empathy, understanding, and mutual respect.

3. Critical thinking skills

Preschoolers can gain problem-solving skills and the ability to make safe decisions through engaging in play and educational activities. When faced with an obstacle, help them find ideas for solutions. For instance, if preschoolers cannot agree on a game to play, get them to consider alternatives, compromises, and activities that will make everyone happy. We can help them use their creativity and identify solutions that integrate both interests. Resolving conflicts is easier by identifying win-win solutions that acknowledge and value everyone’s needs and perspectives.  

4. Social interactions

Preschoolers enhance their social abilities when they engage with other children. Playing and interacting with others exposes them to emotions like excitement, irritation, and responsiveness. When they experience and manage these emotions in a secure and encouraging setting, young children learn to understand theirs and others’ emotions, while accepting the opinions or needs of others. Schedule playdates, explore neighbourhood playgrounds, and get involved in group activities and observe how they interact. Parents can offer gentle guidance that encourages cooperative play but allows enough space for them to resolve issues independently.

Building Bridges for Life

Through positive social skills and healthy conflict management, preschoolers can establish a solid foundation for future relationships. Inspiring our children to build social connections involves empathy, respectful communication, positive behaviour, and social interactions. At New Life Childcare near Choa Chu Kang (In Junction 10), preschoolers can enjoy a nurturing and stimulating environment while engaging in structured activities with their peers. Together, we can empower children to thrive socially by cultivating valuable life skills from an early age.