The words, "How can I help you?" are powerful words.
Rather than don't do that or you should. . . .," when an individual is displaying behavior that's questionable, we can respond with, How can I help you? Those few words serve to diffuse most situations.
When we notice young children doing something we perceive as wrong, we can say, "I noticed that you ________________, and I'm wondering how I can help you do the right thing in this situation." That's a lot better than coming on strong. Of course, if a behavior is dangerous and destructive, we may need to have a strong reaction to stop the behavior first, then discuss how to help.
The best teachers are very sensitive to students' needs when their behavior is out of line. Those teachers work continuously to help students grow to be their best possible selves. These teachers don't have personal discussions about behavior in front of other students, and they don't use harsh words. These teachers are sensitive guides and counselors when it comes to helping children. These are the teachers that children grow to love and respect the most.
In busy school settings where there is lots of activity and often not that many adults to support the learning, to be that sensitive teacher is not always easy, but it's always important to reach for that sensitivity, care, and guidance as we work with young children. It's always important to be there to ask, "How can I help you?" That will develop the trusting student-teacher relationships you hope to grow.