The teacher tells you that your little one is very well-behaved in school. However, it’s always the direct opposite when they’re at home.
It might, then, boil down to your discipline strategies. Singapore childcare and preschool teachers share 14 ways to encourage good behaviour in your child.
If your toddler tries to push his sibling, your instinct may be to shout “stop” or “no”. Instead, sit her down and say: “Look at Mummy’s face. I am sad. That was not nice. Please say sorry to your sister.”
Young children need visual cues to understand the consequences of their actions, says teacher Ida from Brighton Montessori.
Rather than react with negative statements like ‘No biting!”, try saying: “I know you are upset that your friend snatched your truck, but we need to be gentle. We can say, ‘Please stop!’”
When you use empathy in your reasoning, you help your child think through his actions, increase his vocabulary and teach him problem-solving skills, points out curriculum specialist Annabella Chia from Odyssey The Global Preschool.
Ask leading questions to help your child reflect on his actions and understand the consequences.
If the kids are fighting over a toy, senior teacher Sangeetha P. from Etonhouse Preschool suggests that you ask: What happened? Did you want that toy? Do you think it was right to snatch the toy and push your friend down? What do you think we should do now?
If you sense an outburst looming, “divert your child’s attention to something more interesting and the meltdown will soon be forgotten”, advises teacher Veron from Mindchamps Preschool.
With his limited vocabulary, your toddler cannot explain what the tantrum is all about.
Acknowledge his frustration by saying something simple, like: “I know that you are angry because you did not get that.”
It’s also important that your little one learns to apologise. He could say: “I am sorry for making you upset. I will not do it again.” Then, give a handshake or a hug, says Nur Azlina Subari, a teacher from Learning Vision.
Discuss social skills such as sharing and taking turns.
You can ask: How would you feel if I snatched a book from you? Why don’t we enjoy the book together?
Giving examples and role-playing helps them express how they feel and teaches them to show empathy for others, teacher Irliana Tay from Etonhouse Preschool explains.
Toddlers lack both language and social skills, so they are easily frustrated when they play together, says teacher Wee from Pat’s Schoolhouse.
If your little one hits his friends when they take his toys, tell him calmly and firmly: “Ouch! That is painful. We only hit the beanbag. Your friend is not a beanbag.”
Teach your young one how to resolve minor squabbles with her friend, teacher Janet from Pat’s Schoolhouse suggests.
For example, if he’s not ready to give up his tricycle, he can say: “Please wait, I am not done. Please do not push me. I will fall and hurt myself.”
This is important, especially if you have an only child, teacher Jacqueline from Brighton Montessori suggests.
Reward him whenever you see him attempting to share, no matter how small the gesture.
Uncover the triggers or other contributing factors behind your child’s behaviour.
Teacher Shirlee Lim, from Etonhouse Preschool, recalls an incident during story time in class when a girl moved forward to pinch her friend’s arm.
After observing her for a while, the teachers realised that she needed sensorial stimulation. Giving her a textured “feely ball” to hold during group time solved the problem.
If your little one denies his wrongdoing, perhaps out of fear of punishment, wait until he is ready to talk about it, says Janelle Wong, a principal with Learning Vision.
Then, explain the consequences of his actions in a calm and objective tone. Assign an appropriate follow-up – for instance, by getting him to clean up the mess he created.
The playground is a great setting for kids to pick up physical and social skills, says teacher Deanna from Mindchamps Preschool.
Before playtime, remind your child: “Be gentle and patient”, and “Go up the steps and down the slide”.
Outline the consequences, as well: “Your friends might get hurt if you are not gentle.” “You might bump into your friend if you are going in the wrong direction.”
When it’s time to leave, your kid might throw a tantrum because he is reluctant to head home. So, give him plenty of notice in advance. “Counting down will help children buffer the inertia of stopping a fun activity,” Deanna adds.
Reinforce good behavior by clapping or giving praise, such as: “I like the way you took turns with your friend”.
Work with his teachers, says Shweta Bhatnagar, a teacher from Etonhouse Preschool. This helps ensure that similar strategies are used both at home and in school.
Instead of forcing your picky child to finish his vegetables, encourage good eating habits by being a role model.
“How do you tell a child to eat his vegetables if you can barely finish yours?” asks teacher Treece from Mindchamps Preschool.
Or, get your child to help you prepare dinner. “When I engage my students in food preparation, they usually think what they have created is the most delicious thing on earth,” shares Treece.
By Lynn Wee, Young Parents, October 2016
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