Around holidays that promote love and kindness is a good time to revisit how we treat our friends. We have had a fairly good roll this year and most of our kids get along well. As they get older and get more independent sometimes preschoolers test their ability to ” lead ” in a group. Sometimes that leading takes the form of being a bully or just being mean spirited.
Think back to orientation. I said ” we will learn about the alphabet and the sounds it makes. We will learn colors. We will learn counting and be able to recognize numbers but the most important skills we will learn will be lessons of the heart. How to get along in a group , how to react to someone that is having a bad day, how to express our feelings when we are angry or upset are all real situations that are best learned early in life. ”
If you have hung around here much you realize that I dont jump in the middle of the kids arguments and disagreements right away. I allow them time to process and think about what they need to do. I am usually right there to coach or help but I dont hjack the situation.
I have been seeing a little more of children being mean to their friends ( and even to parents ) at times. There is a strong difference between a child being mischievous and testing and a child being disrespectful. If parents allow kids to be disrespectful to them ( hitting them, yelling at them, having a hateful tone) I can promise you at some point it comes out at school and it is not tolerated here. They will have to sit and talk to me or Randy or Dallas about what is appropriate language to use with an adult. If this isnt important to you , you will realize how important it is when they get to ” big school ” But overall, it is just life. Teaching children to be socially polite is VERY important.
One way that we teach that in preschool is by using social stories. Today I read three stories ” Words are not for Hurting.” , ” Dinofours, I am the Boss ” and ” Dinofours, you are not my Friend.” as we read these stories we talked about what might happen next and why the children in the stories might be acting the way they are. We talked about whether we have seen this type of behavior in our classroom and what we can do to stop it. Its funny because even as little people that have those defensive techniques ” But… I did it because..” We talked about what if someone is mean to you like the little kids in the book, how can we react ? What can we do to make it better ? I also sandwiched in positive things like I have noticed how some of the kids are branching out to play more with kids that in the past they havent played with as much. We talked about what a good thing that is. We talked about how our voices get loud and mean sounding sometimes. As the teacher you will hear me say a lot – ” do I yell at you ? ( no ) then you should not be yelling at your friends. We dont yell at each other, that is mean.” This will only work for you at home if you dont yell. ( self check…. )
I know you all dont have books like this as resources at home. But your kiddos LOVE storytelling. Make up a story . For instance if your child is yelling at you at home you could start like this :
Stop yelling at me and let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a little girl. She wore beautiful bows and sparkly dresses. She had dark black hair and her fingernails were pink . ( you try to make the character as close to your child as possible so they can feel like – hey.. that sounds like me !) One day she was playing with her dolls and her mother said ” It’s time to clean up for supper !” The little girl didnt want to clean up so she started throwing her toys around her room and yelling ” I AM NOT GOING TO DO IT ! I AM NOT GOING TO PICK UP MY TOYS. I AM NOT HUNGRY! ” The mother looked in the room and she was very sad. She had made the little girls favorite lunch of peanut butter and strawberry jelly. The mother said ” Its not nice to yell at me, Stop and pick up your toys…” Again the little girl yelled ” NO!” and slammed her door. The mommy was very sad. She went into the kitchen and put away lunch and sat down to read. Later the little girl came in her room and said ” Mommy, I am hungry.” ( You can stop all along and ask questions.. like here you could say, do you think the mom is going to fix her lunch ? ) …… anyway, you get the idea. You tell a story that is much like your child that includes the action you are having a problem with and the ending would have a good outcome that hopefully shows your child what making the right decision can lead to. After telling your story talk for a minute and ask your child ” is this a little like when you yell at me? ” From there continue the conversation to discuss what needs to happen to stop the unacceptable behavior.
I know today’s post is a little lengthy and preachy but I think it is important that we are all on the same page. Over the years of working with children I have gained a few nuggets of practical advice that hopefully can help you as a parent.
One fun thing we did today was a letter recognition game. There were little paper plates on the floor with hearts and letters drawn on them. Much like musical chairs the kids danced around the letters and when the music stopped they picked up the plate and told me what letter was on it. I was impressed that almost always they were on target.