Challenging behavior – why does it seem to be right in front of us, perhaps more often than we would like?! I would like to empower those who have daily interaction with young children. With the power of knowledge, you will be better prepared to respond to and deal with conflict. Knowledge of child development will help keep your young relationship in good standing.
Did you know that before the age of six, information is processed twelve times slower than in adults? Children six to twelve process information six times slower than adults! What does that mean? When we walk into a room and quickly announce we need to leave; Mommy has a meeting and I need you to turn off the TV, get your shoes and backpack, and a jacket just in case it cools down; we need to leave in just a few minutes, so be quick!” Rarely does this common scenario take place without Mom or Dad getting flustered. Try this – while turning off the TV, give the command, “get your shoes and backpack.” Truly adults need to s. l. o. w. the pace down!
How many times a day have you said the word “don’t”? Young children cannot conjugate the word “don’t” and therefore when you say “don’t throw the sand”, they hear “throw the sand” and you march over to the sandbox with the “challenging me again” thought! We need to tell children what to do! “Use the bulldozer to move the sand!” It takes work to tell children what we want them to do. “Don’t” really doesn’t give them any information and “no” certainly doesn’t provide more information either. Instead, tell children what to do. Teach them what YOU want them TO DO!
Children under seven lack mature “inner speech.” In adults, inner speech is like a rehearsal for what we may want to say when arriving at a new acquaintance’s place or how we might want to prepare a meal. We can even quickly think “oh, what I would like to say” but use our filter and think before we act! Young children see in pictures. Adults need to paint a picture with their words. Remember, don’t” and “no” provide no information. For example, “You seem anxious, you pushed your friend when you walked into the room. You may not push, you may come to me and stand by me if you feel anxious.” Using descriptive language helps defuse those unwanted verbal power struggles and is also a stepping stone for language and literacy, so utilize it as often and fully as possible.
If you’re in the teaching field or just simply read to children, it’s helpful to know that binocular vision, the ability of both eyes to focus on the same subject, doesn’t fully mature until around age six. Until then, it is like covering one eye, spinning around and trying to walk down steps! Reading a story to children and moving the book in front of their eyes is continuous motion. In a group you’ll get the child in front saying, “I didn’t see the picture!” They follow the book and the children in back begin to say, “I didn’t see the picture!” Suddenly everyone is scooting, on their knees, and saying, “I didn’t see the picture!” Instead, hold the book still, move it, then hold it still again. We should pay attention to children’s behavior. Though it appears to us that they’ve seen the picture, they haven’t and they are not making it up!
There is so much we can do to help children plug into the rational part of the brain. We can do the same! Be a S.T.A.R. – Smile, Take a deep breath, And Relax! I know you can do it! Teach your child or children the same.
Kathy Harsch has followed Dr. Becky Bailey’s teachings since attending her 2000 Marquette Early Childhood Conference presentation. She’s since attended many of Dr. Bailey’s conferences and continues to teach and learn from Conscious Discipline, School Family, and Brain Smart ways, incorporating them in her day care.
*Conscious Discipline™, School Family T, and Brain Smart™, are trademarks of Loving Guidance, Inc. 1-800-842-2846 www.ConsciousDiscipline.com.
Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2012 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved