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“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!