Connecting With Young Children: Educating the Will – Week Twelve

Author Stephen Spitalny’s books are now 15 percent off at this link: 3 of my books are on sale at 15% off at  — Now is a wonderful time to get your own copy of this book and read along with us!

Many people use verbal instruction as a way to correct the behaviors of the young child….This is the sensory-motor stage of life when sense experience is the stimulation for action, not thinking before action.” – page 99

We are still in Chapter 5 of Stephen Spitalny’s wonderful book, “Connecting With Young Children:  Educating the Will.”  Our last post regarding this chapter looked at choices, and the anxiety many adults face in our society regarding decisiveness and how this bleeds into the way we can treat children like miniature adults when the consciousness of the child is not that of an adult at all!

Today we start with “Please, okay?” When a parent is wishing that a child would comply with what they are asking the child, they frequently tack on an “okay”.  The author notes that the children “are far more secure when they feel a confident guidance from the adult that cannot come from checking in with the child if your resolution of the situation works for them or not.”  If you feel as if this statement of the author  is somehow wrong or unsettling,  that your early years child of ages 3-6 years old should feel the situation works for them, I suggest you go back and do some inner work with how you feel about decisiveness in decision – making in general.    I believe that this is a skill that needs to be cultivated in this day and age.  How could you cultivate this skill in your own life?

“Please” if often offered by adults when there is no choice.  The authors talks about the difference between “Hand me the stick, please.” versus “The stick needs a rest” and accepting the stick with an open palm and then saying, ‘Thank you” to the child.  This may be semantics to you, but it is an interesting point of view to think about.  Another interesting word is the word “but” as this often is a way to deny something.  And finally, praise has been shown to actually not support the development of self-esteem in a child at all.  Acknowledging effort is much more important than praising the final outcome.  Praising in general often “wakes up” a child to begin comparing themselves to others.  A tool to use to replace, “Good job!” and the like is “I like it when you…”  A smile or a hug can do the same thing without any words at all.

More than words, we must remember consistency in follow-through and the physicality in which a young child lives.  If rhythm cannot hold the moment where discipline is needed, and singing with movement cannot either, than we must work carefully with our words and remember that whilst we live in our heads, our  early years children do not. Ten words or less should suffice!

The rest of this chapter has wonderful sections regarding the often-debated topic of using NonViolent Communication with small children, and answering children’s questions. This, to me, is one of the most important chapters in this book and I encourage you to read it!

Many blessings,


4 thoughts on “Connecting With Young Children: Educating the Will – Week Twelve

  1. So glad you are enjoying my book! I want to mention though, the quote at the beginning of your post is misleading. The actual sentence on page 99 reads “This is the sensory-motor stage of life when sense experience is the stimulation for action, not thinking before action.” The sensory motor stage is about action without thinking. P.S. All 3 of my books are on sale at 15% off at until Dec. 31.

    • What a honor to hear from you, Mr. Spitalny! I am so sorry about that; I changed it and also added your link for more readers to see it in case they don’t read the comments. Thank you so much, and many blessings,

  2. Agreed, very good reminders and much food for thought in this chapter. I can honestly say that since reading this book (and contemplating many of the posts on this blog) I’ve become much more aware of my own speech patterns with my daughter. Regarding decisiveness: Yes, I absolutely feel this is a skill I need to work on. Carrie asks how we can cultivate this skill in our own lives, and this is a question I would like to contemplate. I do have to say that reading this chapter, I sometimes wondered about being TOO aware of my speech. I want to be conscious in my speech, but not unnatural, or stilted. So, that’s something that has come up as I consider this chapter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.