My sister has been having a tough time with her youngest lately. Her kids are all wonderful little sweethearts but as all kids do, they’ve been acting out. Children all have different little quirks but some can definitely be more embarrassing than others, believe me I know. Every misbehavior needs to be confronted in its own unique way and fixing these issues requires creativity and ingenuity in order to be effective in the long term.
It’s Never Too Early To Teach Kids Manners
So my niece is in preschool and she’s been getting behavior reports from the teachers at the school. She takes things from other children without asking, sometimes she demands things from the teachers and their assistants without saying please or thank you, or she’ll interrupt other children’s playtime to get them to do what she wants to do in that moment. She’s been displaying a lack of respect for other people, which, to be fair, can be a difficult thing to teach to a stubborn child. Sometimes it’s difficult for little ones to realize that they’re not the only person in the world and that they need to be considerate of other people’s wants and needs. You can easily teach a child to say “please” and “thank you,” but it’s another animal entirely to get them to mean those things and actually be grateful.
As you can imagine it’s very embarrassing for my sister, and she’s tried a number of different techniques for getting my niece back on track to being a respectful and kind person. It’s a hard thing to do! So I’ve been giving her the best advice that I can from my own personal experience and it’s starting to have some effect.
The first thing that I told her was that she can’t just be withholding of things that her daughter wants because incentivizing behavior through a rewards-based argument only works so well. If that’s the only thing that you do, you might have an adolescent who expects a cookie for every time they do something nice for someone else later on and that’s never good.
Santa Claus Can Help!
One thing that I suggest is bringing in an outside voice of authority to subliminally tell your child that being nice to other kids and adults might have rewards later on, but in the day-to-day, building a habit of kindness and respect will have a great effect. That’s right, I’m talking about Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a powerful influencer for children who still believe in him, and they listen and take his words to heart not just because he’s the one bringing them presents but because they often just firmly believe what he has to say. One of my favorite websites to recommend, Packages from Santa, is an amazing resource where they record personalized videos from Santa Claus to your kiddos, and believe me this works so well. You can get those personalized messages to be a direct reminder to your child that being nice is a mindset, not just an action, and being put on the Nice List at the end of the year means that they spent the year acting in a way that deserves to get them put on it.
Help Foster A Deeper Understanding Of Manners
Another thing that I recommend is putting a stronger emphasis on sharing than just saying “please” and “thank you.” To little kids, sometimes they just say the words like they’re a magic spell or just a routine to get what they want, but sharing is actually instructive. When children share things, be it a snack or a toy or even just space on the couch, they subconsciously notice that the people that they’re sharing with are experiencing a similar level of satisfaction with them. When they observe that if they share their apple slices with another child, or if they let someone else play with the fire truck, both of them can have a tasty treat or a fun playtime. The reward isn’t one sided, and kids can pick up on the benefits of the people around them being content and satisfied as well. It’s a good motivator once they realize that they’re alleviating negativity for themselves and that generosity leads to everyone being happy.
Every Child Is Different
It’s also important to remember that all little ones have their own little sassy quirks, don’t let it get to you and don’t get too embarrassed. Every single child has a learning curve when it comes to them acting out and that’s okay! Most people, especially teachers and parents with children of their own have seen it all before. Just be patient, de-stress and take the time that your little one needs to get their behavior back on track and on the road to better behavior.