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The puzzle is too hard, the piece wont fit. What does the four year old do? “AHHHHHHHHH I can’t do it! Too hard!”

 

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I walk over, look and see how there are two pieces that if turned the right way, the whole work would be complete and this activity could be finished! One of the concepts we have at the program I am employed at (and I stand by) is children are to finish the work they choose, and to not leave tasks unfinished.  He screams more and gives me a pout.  I ask him

“Can you please use your manners”

“I cant do it. I need help”

“I see you are stuck, but I have a job of my own, can you try it until I can come and see?” He nods and tearfully turns back to his work.  I finish my job and come back to him, nothing has been changed, modified or tried. 

“I see you haven’t tried anything.  I cannot help you until you try”

“I CANT! AHHHHHHHHH”

“I cannot help you when you are not using good manners” At this I walk away and help another child who is working quietly and with good manners.  In a few minutes he dies down to blubbering, still shouting occasionally.  Then he stops, quietly walks over to me and taps me on the shoulder.

“Hi! I see you have used your good manners.  What can I help you with?”

“I cant figure out the piece, can you come help me please?”

At this point he has turned to a positive well mannered behavior so I respond

“Yes, since you asked so nicely I can come and sit with you” So I follow him back to his table and watch.  He putters around and is waiting for my answer.  I give him a tip, without giving the answer

“I see that you need to remove a few pieces, then try a different way” At this he takes out the two troublesome pieces, and rearranges.  He finally gets to the last piece, its going to fit, he wiggles it in and ta-da! He cheers, he celebrates and is happy! He looks at me:

“Thank you!”

“All I did was give you a tip, you did the work” Smile.  “how do you feel?”

“I feel great”

One of the hardest points we have as role models (parent, grandparent, teacher, guardian) is to not jump in when a child with a problem screams and acts out, but to guide them to ask for help in a nice way and to respond in such.  When you help a child to learn that good manners are helpful and screaming upset moments (no matter how faked, or real) are not accetpable, you are guiding a childs behavior and hopefully setting them up for a stronger foot hold in society.  So remember:

~Reward good manners

~Ignore or tell a child that bad manners will not get a response or help

~Let a child get upset, by not acknowledging, you take away the power of the negative

~Always remind a child afterwards of the good they accomplished, not by pushing “GOOD BOY” but “You did it! You have(accomplished work, describe briefly) and how do you feel?”

 

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