“He is a great listener!”
“He shows such great respect and care to his peers and teachers!”
“Definitely has a love and excitement for learning!”
“Absolutely adores helping in classroom chores!”
If you heard these during a parent teacher meeting and wondered if the teacher accidentally confused your child for someone else… you are not alone!
Kids tend to act very differently in the classroom then at home with mommy and daddy. Here are a few simple guidelines that we do in our classrooms at our LA based preschools that you can do at home to help your child be a phenomenal listener that is eager to help, learn and share.
1) Speak TO your child not AT your child – With todays lifestyle and busy schedule we are all guilty of trying to just get through the day and finish everything on our to do list. Often this means telling your child to “Eat dinner”, “Pick up your plate” or “It’s bed time go to sleep” but these are simply chores that truly do not engage your child in conversation. When a child feels that he is talked AT, he will usually shut down.
At school, unlike at home its usually more of a child centered environment which means the child has room to take the lead, to be involved and to truly understand the process of each activity. So here are some ways your home can too become child centered: if you are running to the market with your kiddo, get him involved. Smell the veggies, talk about the ingredients you need for dinner, ask your child to grab some fruits or some milk and put it in the cart. If you have a younger one and you are changing a diaper, say “Mommy is going to change your diaper so its nice and clean”, or at bed time, “Daddy is going to help you go to bed so that tomorrow you have all the energy you need”. Engaging in conversation with your child will get them interested, involved and eager to be good listeners and helpers.
2) Give your child the feeling that he is needed – By simply giving a child a few responsibilities especially involving community and family, your child will strengthen their feeling of belonging, confidence and pride. Have your child help contribute to the household. Help set the table for dinner, walk the dog with mom and dad, help feed baby sister. Furthermore, try to expand their sense of contribution into the community not just the family, for example: help the old neighbor with walking her dog or going with mom and dad to pack some bags for the less fortunate every so often. Children, just like adults need to feel heard and needed. A child that has some household responsibilities will be calmer, happier and will instantly feel loved and valued having active part of the household and the community. In our classrooms we have a snack monitor, a story monitor and even an egg monitor that helps daily to pick the eggs from the chicken coop. The kiddos LOVE it!
3) Name their feelings – Kiddos usually tantrum because they don’t know how to say “Mommy I am feeling sad that… I don’t get to eat Mcdonalds for dinner”, or “Daddy I am feeling angry that… you don’t take me on a bike ride every night after work”. You know, just the typical enormous expectations kids have on a daily basis…Ha!
Giving your child the vocabulary to express their feelings will transform your child! You will be instantly giving their anger, sadness and even happiness a voice. So, when your child screams on top of their lungs in the middle of the supermarket at rush hour as hard as it is, stay calm and say something like this: “It sounds like you are upset… Mommy is not buying you the entire market” or “It sounds like you are angry… Mommy is not letting you open every potato chip bag in the cart ” Yes the results are magical! 😉 You will then instantly see the tantrums fading away and your child starting to express their feelings instead.
Hope this all helps your child be that phenomenal listener he is in the classroom at home too!
Sophie Le Petit Gan
Please share what are some challenges you have with your child at home?