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How to Get Your Preschooler to Behave

by R. Carnavale | November 25th, 2014 | Preschool, Social

little girl (400x400)You do a lot for your preschooler — providing food, shelter, clothing, education, sleep, recreation and other opportunities to grow and learn. In addition, you need to teach him good behavior — how to treat others so that he can get along with people in this world; the difference between right and wrong; and safe versus unsafe behaviors.

While your child may learn various behaviors from other people at preschool, a religious institution, or at a friend’s or relative’s house, you, the parent, have the primary responsibility for teaching your child how to behave.

The earlier you start the better because changing your child’s behavior when he’s older will be harder than it is at this early stage in life. Your child will benefit from your instruction because he’ll learn how to share his toys and play with others, share his space, empathize with others, feel safe, control his impulses, follow instructions and listen to you and others such that his life is more happy and fulfilling.

Teach positive behavior by showing love, lavishing praise upon your preschooler and modeling good behavior.

To achieve success, you must tell your child what to do. Then you must show him how to do it. Finally, you must praise him when he behaves well. (This probably sounds a bit like dog school, but the same principles work well for pets and kids.)

You and your partner need to figure out the behavioral goals you want to instill in your child — Do you want him to follow the Golden Rule and treat others as he wants to be treated? Maybe you want him to learn how to get along with his siblings or to learn how to play with the neighborhood children, or maybe you want him to learn how to respect and take care of his toys.

Next, be decisive and create clear house rules that mirror your behavioral goals. They should be something simple like “no hitting,” “no talking back to Mom and Dad” or “be kind to the cat.” Remember: Your preschooler is still developing his language and reasoning skills, so your rules should be short and easy to follow.

Once you’ve figured out what your house rules are, you’ll need to present them to your child using simple words. Be clear in your expectations and remind your child at appropriate moments of the house rules. If a friend is coming over, remind your child to share his toys or to be kind to his playmate. That way, your child is less likely to misbehave.

At this age, a rule is a rule so you’ll need to be firm and stick to the rules you’ve created even when your child goes out of his way to test their limits. Consistency in enforcing the rules is the key to success as is praising your child when he obeys the rules.

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