Risk Taking, Problem-Solving,
North Carolina Foundations Task Force. (2013). North Carolina
foundations for early learning and development. Raleigh: Author.
Strategies for Infants and Toddlers
• Provide plenty of high-quality toys and equipment that can be used in
• Provide genuine attention, affection, and acceptance. Such support
validates children and makes them feel safe to take risks and accept
• Allow children to take risks that do not compromise their safety.
• Encourage accomplishments with specific praise of a child’s efforts.
Avoid meaningless praise
• Accept mistakes, messes, and failures as learning opportunities to try
again or try something differently.
Strategies for Infants and Toddlers (2)
• Provide flexibility within a routine
• Know your children’s temperaments and willingness or reluctance to
try new things. Be intentional and supportive in introducing new
experiences and change.
• Accommodate differences among children.
Examples of Support
• Have duplicates of favorite toys as opposed to saying, “I’ll put it away
until you can share”.
• Acknowledge and identify babies’ and toddlers’ feelings with both
spoken and body language
• Use encouragement and specific encouragement (“You stood up all by
yourself!”) rather than meaningless praise (“good job”)
• Accept mistakes and failures – “Oh no! The milk spilled. Let’s clean it
up” rather than “You are wasting your milk. I guess you’re through
because your aren’t getting more!”
• Use picture schedules, word and other signals, general and direct
modeling, and other supports for both routine and flexibility
Strategies for Preschoolers
• Encourage and support children’s ideas rather than being “right”. It’s
the process, not the product
• Use “mistakes” as learning opportunities instead of cause for
punishment or other negative response.
• Model positive responses, including problem solving strategies, to
both their mistakes and your mistakes.
• Mental model problem solving steps and consideration of possible
Strategies for Preschoolers 2
• Model and practice good communication (receptive and expressive)
with children, including sharing, listening, and asking questions.
• Work with children to try new things, especially those children who
may be more reluctant. Introduce “new” gradually and within the
context of the familiar
• Recognize and understand varying temperaments and ability levels.
Accommodate children’s differences with flexibility and needed
• Extend communication with reflective listening to help children better
Examples for Preschoolers
• Mistakes are going to happen. Rather than send a child who made a
mistake to time out, use the mistake as a learning opportunity
• Picture solution cards provide excellent support as children learn to
make choices and problem-solve. The CSEFEL website has some
terrific solution cue cards and other strategies to help children with
positive social and emotional responses.
• Center for Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning URL:
• CSEFEL Solution Kit Cue Cards URL:
Examples for Preschoolers 2
• Model reflective listening, asking questions for better understanding,
and other positive communication strategies.
• Help children extend their play and add new levels of challenge
without intervening too long into their play.
• Add new equipment, materials, and experiences to enhance the
familiar and the favorites.
• Collaborate and share with other professionals to learn new ways to
work with children who are reluctant to take risks, have difficulty
problem-solving, and struggle with change