Second Step Newsletter

March/April/May 2021

Problem Solving using STEP

It's helpful to have some steps to follow in order to solve everyday problems. That's why your Second Step student is learning to problem solve by remembering the word STEP. S-T-E-P is a process to solve problems calmly, respectfully, and safely. Here's what it stands for:

  • S = Say the problem without blame
  • T = Think of Solutions that are safe and respectful
  • E = Explore Consequences, both positive and negative
  • P = Pick the best solution

Remember, if there is an argument about whose turn it is to have the remote or a fight about who gets the game console first, remind your Second Step student to calm down first, then use STEP to solve the problem.

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S - Say the Problem Without Blame

In order to say what a problem is without blame, there are several words to avoid using. Words like "You made me" or "Because of you" are blaming words. Statements like "You never" or "You're always" also place blame. Try to stay away from words like "you, he she, or they" to avoid placing blame on another person. Blaming is not respectful and it causes uncomfortable feelings to get stronger. It's hard to come up with a good solution when people are angry or having other strong feelings!

To successfully say the problem without blame, your student is learning to focus on "What do we both want or need in this situation?" For example, if siblings are fighting over the remote, after calming down they would say "We both want the remote right now." Or if friends are arguing over who gets to be the team captain at recess, they would say "We both want to be team captain, but there can only be one." Once a problem is stated without blame, it's much easier to come up with safe and respectful solutions to the problem.

The Problem Solving Song - K & 1st Grade Second Step Song

Problem Solving Song

T - Think of Solutions That Are Safe and Respectful

Solutions help us solve a problem. Solutions should always be safe (no one's body or feelings get hurt) and respectful (being kind, being polite, treating others the way you think they'd like to be treated.) It's best to think of several safe and respectful solutions so there are many options to choose from!

Let's practice with the following example: "We both want the TV remote right now."

Safe & Respectful Solutions:

  1. You can have the remote for half an hour, then I get the remote for half and hour.
  2. I get the remote after school on Monday and Wednesday, you get the remote after school on Tuesday and Thursday.
  3. My favorite show isn't on until after dinner. You can have the remote after school and I can have the remote after dinner.
  4. We could play rock, paper, scissors to decide who gets the remote.

Can you think of some more safe and respectful solutions to add to the list?

Step Up - 2nd & 3rd Grade Second Step Song

Step up second step 2nd grade

E - Explore the Consequences, Both Positive & Negative

A consequence is something that could happen if you use a solution. Consequences can be positive (good) or negative (bad). When exploring consequences, your Second Step student is learning to ask "What could happen?" then think of all the positive and negative things that could happen for everyone involved in the problem.

Let's practice with an example from our solutions to "We both want the TV remote right now."

Solution #1: You can have the remote for half and hour, then I get the remote for half an hour

Positive Consequences:

  • We both get a turn with the remote
  • We both get to watch what we want
  • It solves the problem

Negative Consequences:

  • The show I'm watching might be longer than half an hour
  • We might have to go to Walmart when it's supposed to be my turn with the remote.

This should just be a quick discussion - no need to write it out like the example. After doing this for all of the possible solutions, it should be easy to move on to the next step!

The STEP Song - 4th & 5th Grade Second Step Song

The Step song for 1 hour by Second Step

P - Pick the Best Solution

The final step is to pick the best solution to solve the problem. Your Second Step student is learning to consider: Which solution actually solves the problem? Which solution had the most positive consequences? Which solution is fair to everyone involved? They are also learning that if they choose a solution and it's not working, they can go back to the list and choose a different solution or work through STEP again!

Putting It All Together...

Second Step Grade 4 Lesson 17, Video 2

Give STEP A Try...

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A Bad Case of Stripes by Dave Shannon

When Camilla gives up something she loves to be like everyone else, she comes down with a bizarre illness - a bad case of the Stripes! How will Camilla get back to her true, unstriped self?

A fun story that focuses on feelings, emotion management, and problem solving!

📚 Kids Book Read Aloud: A BAD CASE OF STRIPES by David Shannon

Fun Second Step Review Activities...

For more information or for questions about Second Step, please contact:

Shelby Liebegott at