kelso choices

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Students in K-3 are taught to use Kelso’s Choices to peacefully resolve small conflicts among themselves. The Kelso program teaches nine strategies (referred to as Kelso’s Choices) that students can use when they encounter a “small problem” – a situation that is not “scary or dangerous.” If students can’t resolve the problem after trying two of Kelso’s choices, they are taught to seek help from an adult. Students also learn how to differentiate between a small problem and a big problem and that big problems should always be reported to an adult.
Practicing Kelso’s Choices helps students to develop confidence in their ability to solve problems peacefully and promotes a safer, more positive school environment. When students use Kelso’s Choices effectively, teachers can spend more time teaching and less time mediating. By reinforcing the Kelso program at home, you can help improve the school learning environment while also building your child’s conflict resolution skills.

Your School Counselor,

Lizette Ortiz- [email protected]

Ways to Reinforce Kelso’s Choices at Home


  • Ask your K-3rd grade child which Kelso choice they used today. Were they able to solve the problem? What else could they have done? What will they do next time? How did they feel?

  • Help your child identify big vs. small problems. If they’ve already tried to solve a small problem using one of Kelso’s choices and weren’t successful, ask if you can help brainstorm some possible solutions. Avoid rushing in with a solution to your child’s problem—the goal is to teach them to be problem solvers.

  • Build your child’s feelings vocabulary. Practice listening to the feelings behind your child’s message. Then, to show that you were listening and care about what they are telling you, clarify the feelings behind their words. For example, “You’re feeling left out because…” or “It sounds like you’re feeling….”

  • Offer incentives for using Kelso’s Choices. Create a chart for your child to check off each time one of Kelso’s choices is used. At the end of the week, talk about which choices they used most often and why. Which ones were the hardest for them to use?

  • Post Kelso’s wheel on the wall and track strategies used. Have family members put a sticker on the wheel each time they use one of Kelso’ choices to solve a problem. Kids love to point out when their parents are using Kelso’s choices—as well as when they aren’t!

  • Use “I-messages” to let your child know how their behavior is affecting you. Rather than focusing on the negative behavior and assigning blame, an I-message helps the other person to see the impact of their behavior on others, making them more likely to want to respond positively. For example, say “I feel frustrated when you forget to take out the trash and I would like you to do it without being reminded” rather than “” You never take out the trash when you’re supposed to - you’re so lazy!”