Preschoolers' skills for behavioral self-control are often uneven. Although their skills for managing their own behavior are improving, preschoolers are often faced with new challenges that stress their abilities to use these skills. Examples of this may include: the transition to a preschool classroom, family changes or increased adult expectations. Preschoolers are just starting to understand the impact of their behavior on others.
What parents can do to help:
Children can be overwhelmed by expressions of intense anger. This can make it difficult for them to effectively learn better ways to behave. Both positive and negative attention is very reinforcing to young children. A firm, but calm, reaction will give a clear message, without rewarding a behavior with your attention.
Warnings can help a young child to regain control of his or her behavior. Warnings should not be phrased as questions, for example, "Do you want to have a Time Out?" Instead, warnings should emphasize your child's ability to regain control of his or her behavior, For example, "It is not okay to jump on the couch. If you continue to jump on the couch then you will need to go to Time Out."
Immediate consequences are more effective than delayed consequences. For young children, it is very difficult to connect behaviors and consequences if the consequences do not follow directly from the behavior.
Brief consequences are more effective than lengthy consequences.
Don't just tell a child what to do, show them. Children look to their parents, what they say and what they do, to learn how to behave. Don't just focus on what to do, focus on how to do it. For example:
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