As parents, I think it is possible to fall into the trap of overindulging and/or overprotecting our child with specials needs. Miller, D.F. (2004) writes in her book, Positive Child Guidance, that “caring adults know how to say no” (p.212) and we must avoid being slaves to our children. All parents will know that caring for and guiding children is physically demanding, emotionally draining, and intellectually taxing work, and growing up is not an easy task for the children either. There are a few ways in which I have tried and tested which seems to work for my preschooler, C.
- Delay gratification – When our child cries or throws a tantrum, unless it is of a dangerous situation, we should wait for a few minutes. Use of this technique helps the child to develop responsibility and self-control. They will learn that it is not “me-world” all the time, and they will slowly learn to realise that there IS a time for all things in the world.
- You should watch this experiment on The Marshmallow Test done on a group of young children on the benefits of delay gratification. Each child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period for 15 minutes. The tester will leave the room and then return 15 minutes later. The study found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tend to have better life outcomes. Watching the kids’ reactions and actions cracked me up. But it definitely reinforced my belief on delay gratification.
- A choice within a choice – According to Miller (2004), our preschoolers at this age are beginning to become more aware of their own interest and intentions. As such, it might be useful for us to provide them with choices that would assist them to build on this development stage. However, to me, freedom to make choices should also lie within certain boundaries. Of course our kids need not know that. I’ll explain this further with a scenario with C. C loves noodles, if given a choice, he would eat noodles and luncheon meat everyday and for every meal. However, as parents, I know the saltiness of both the noodles and luncheon meat. Thus, on a Saturday when we head out for breakfast, I might give C the option to choose either the noodles or luncheon meat. I will explain to C that he still get what he wants, and if he does not want to choose either, I’ll buy him Hor Fun noodles (which he likes as well, just not as much as luncheon meat. Hor Fun happens to be a healthier choice as well).
- Another scenario is vegetable eating. C does not like anything green (i.e., most vegetables), orange (i.e., carrots) or yellow (i.e., capsicum). Recently, with the help of the Science Adventure Series, ‘Don’t be a fussy eater’, it teaches C that to be strong and healthy, we cannot be a fussy eater. With the help of this story, during meal times, I would ask C to make a choice between spinach or carrot. I am happy if he chooses either one. And if he says he doesn’t want either, I would normally say but eating vegetables make us strong and healthy. C would normally oblige after that because he would say he wants to be strong and healthy.
- External reinforcement – By using external reinforcement, I am not saying that I am trying to manipulate our kids to behave in a certain way. On the contrary, I believe it is a process of ‘guiding children to become competent, confident, and cooperative human beings (p.214). Children, especially those of our kids’ age, tend to do whatever they need to get their needs met. And, it is important for parents to know that subconsciously, many habits are formed this way. For example, for a child who always get what he or she wants by asserting it aggressively, might soon think that this is a socially acceptable way to get his or her wants/needs met. This adds an additional layer to the role of parenting preschoolers. We need to analyze and be wary of the way how our kids get the things they want or need. So with C, I have created reward charts. After trying it out for about a month, I feel that it works for him, hence I am sharing it here.
I have to highlight that I do not own any of these images here. I merely downloaded them from the Internet and created charts based on the likes of my child. If you are interested to download them, please click on the link below but know that they are not for commercial use.
- Reward chart Chungington theme for TV or IPad
- Reward chart_Shark theme
- Reward chart Oggy theme single reward
- Reward chart_Oggy theme_single reward_v2
- Reward chart Thomas train theme single reward
How I Use the Charts
Do share with me if these ways or techniques have worked out for you. Since the ‘I am alone in Nursery‘ episode, I started to read up on some books on Child Development, Positive Guidance and Promoting Social Success. I am not done with them but find the contents pretty good in helping me to understand C and devise ways to help him. You may want to check out the books if you are keen to read, read and read really really thick books 😮