Initiative—“I am constantly growing and changing and learning
Safari concentrates on putting together a new puzzle,trying one piece after another to
find the special one she is looking for.Javonne tests what will happen when she pours
water down a funnel into an empty bottle.Adrian asks his teacher how to write “I love
you,Mama,”and Manny sits at the table with the teacher learning how to hold scissors
so they will cut better.All ofthese children are showing initiative.
When a child lacks initiative, they may choose the same activity day after day or
quit an activity as soon as they encounter the first challenge. Children may be verbal
about their lack ofinitiative.They might say things such as,“I can’t do it,”“I don’t want
to try that,”and “This is too hard for me.”You may notice that they don’t look forward
to events in the future.
Help children build initiative by modeling your own initiative and by paying care-
ful attention to your interactions with children.What you say and what you do when
you interact with a child who is struggling with a challenge influences how that child
will react to the next challenge. Gain an understanding of which factors build or tear
down initiative so you can weave initiative-building strategies into the daily life ofthe
Problem Solving—“I can solve problems and resolve conflicts.”
Problems and conflicts are part ofeveryday life.Teachers can help children understand
this and can also arm children with confidence that problems can be resolved.Children
who believe that problems can be solved will be able to cope with the ups and downs of
daily life better than children who don’t.
Problems can overwhelm some children,as a result oftemperament or life experi-
ences.A simple challenge,such as being unable to put on a shoe,can feel like the end of
the world.Spilled milk or a conflict over the red swing can be so overwhelming that a
child feels no choice other than to strike out with fists or hurtful words.Some children
become so overwhelmed by what appears to be an uncontrollable situation that they
withdraw into a corner or fall apart weeping or screaming. Children who have a long
history of being punished when they have problems or conflicts with others often get
out of the habit of thinking of strategies to resolve problems and become resigned to
just paying for the misdemeanor.
Help children understand that problems and conflicts are a natural and expected
part of daily life. Model your own strength in the face of adversity to help children
understand that they have within themselves the ability to work through these chal-
lenging situations.While few people find problems and conflicts pleasurable,children
can learn to see these obstacles as manageable.
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