Monday, December 21, 2009

Discipline and Preschoolers: Explain Why

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As your little toddler turns into your little preschooler, you will need to start changing some of your strategies when you correct, just as you did as you moved from babyhood to toddlerhood. One thing you will need to add to your bag of tricks is explaining why.

Now that your child is old enough to understand, why is very powerful for him. Why allows him to assign meaning to rules and apply this meaning to future actions. Why is an explanation of what he did, why it wasn't okay, and what he should do instead. You are providing your child with knowledge, and knowledge is power!

For your preschooler, sometimes this explanatory process is the only "correction" that needs to happen when he does something wrong. You do, however, need to be sure that the explanation you give is age appropriate. There is an example used in On Becoming Preschoolwise of walking through a vegetable garden (page 159). They talk about teaching children to stay on the walking path and to stay off of the growing plants. They point out that a three year old won't really understand a lecture on how long it takes your plant to recover after it has been trampled. He can, however, understand that he needs to stay on the path.

So impart knowledge, but do it on the level appropriate for your particular child. The term "preschooler" can apply to children through age three and four, so there is obviously a wide realm of understanding within this age group. As you start to explain why to your child, you will start to notice him connecting things and realize how to apply what he has learned to new situations.

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