TEACHING MANNERS TO PRESCHOOLERS
SOCIAL SKILLS ARE AS VITAL AS MATH AND READING
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When babies are born they have only their selfish, basic survival skills and quickly become the center of the universe. It is in every parent and child's best interest to slowly teach, through love and duty, socially accepted interactions that will help your kindergartner and preschooler to become a well rounded human.
You start off with a child who has no idea of the feelings of others and no reference point for good behaviour beyond their own needs. Throughout their formative years, parents should pay attention to teaching their children that people have feelings, that we don't hit others, or scream at people when we are frustrated.
Saying please and thank you, greeting people when you come into a room and shaking a hand when it's extended are all part of civil behaviour to help your child move through the world with the minimum amount of conflict. Not interrupting someone when they are speaking and not taking something that doesn't belong to you fall into this very important guideline. Then you can extend these very important life skills to kindness to others who need a hug or helping hand. Hold the door open for someone who is behind you, or give up your seat if you are in a public place for someone in need. You don't have to raise your voice, no matter how frustrating a situation can be. It can usually be resolved with dialogue. Toddlers, kindergartners and preschoolers who are taught to look you in the eye when they speak to you will have far better communication skills later on in life.
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Parents must always respect a young child's right to intellectual and emotional privacy - "I'm not forcing you to like that person but you must be courteous to them". "I'm not forcing you to like or play with Jane but you can't hit her". Your feelings are your own but your behaviour is public! These general skills will help your child to grow up to be a more caring, acceptable, sensitive human on the playground, in the home with your partner and family and finally with your peers in the workplace.
There is still a lot to be said for Limit Setting with children and Praising Good Behaviour. There is nothing more disturbing that encountering an adult who only sees the world through his needs, wants and desires - "I want that so give it to me" "I am angry so I need to hit" "I am wounded so I must moan and complain". Being loud, demanding and insistent can make one very obnoxious later in life.
A child who has learnt to manage good manners will be rewarded with better relationships and self esteem through the awareness of doing for others through thought, word and deed.
A good book on this very subject of child-rearing is - "Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children," by Judith Martin.
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