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Positive Parenting


Why Does My Child Listen in School But Not At Home?


ver the years as a preschool director, I have been asked why the children listen in school but not at home.

Is there some kind of “magic dust” in school? The answer is always” No”! How do the teachers do it? How is it

possible to get a dozen preschoolers to follow directions, cooperate and be willing and happy to do so? It has been proven time and time again that a child will push the limits with his/her parents because they know they will be loved no matter what. An article in Parent’s Magazine written by Margaret Lamb states that it would be advantageous for parents to borrow some strategies from the preschool teachers’ playbook to get the best from their child.

Here are the 10 best preschool teachers’ strategies:

1. Expect more – most children will live up or down to expectations. At school children are expected to clean-up, pour their own juice, put on their coats, but as soon as Mom arrives the child is deemed helpless and Mom proceeds to do everything. Raise the bar and your child will most likely stretch to meet it.

2. Let them solve simple problems – if children are in a safe situation, let them try to solve a problem without you jumping in with the solution. These moments that we give children to try and solve a problem like retrieving a book on a higher shelf or attempting to put together a toy, are character building moments. A child must understand the concept of trial and error if he/she is going to have success in life.

3. Don’t redo what they have done-if your child dresses himself and nothing seems to match or attempts to put the dishes in the dishwasher not exactly to your standards; that is o.k. It is natural to strive for perfection, but by doing this we cheat our kids of experiencing success.

4. Assign a chore-having your preschooler in charge of a simple regular task builds competency and confidence. The chore should be manageable and meaningful, not busy work. Even very young children know when you are assigning them something that is not useful to the daily workings of the household. If the child is successful with her chores then perhaps she will see that she can dress herself or get her breakfast. Children should be made to feel like contributing members of the family.

5. Praise is key to cooperation – try to catch you child doing something good. Kids repeat behaviors that get attention.

6. No ifs – instead of saying if you clean-up your toys, state when you clean up your toys then we will do ….. Make requests in the language that assumes cooperation.

7. Develop predictable routines - within a preschool situation, children follow the same routines daily. After a while they are capable of

following the

routines with little reminding. Although it would not necessarily be easy to follow the same routines at home daily, pick out a few routines and stick to them daily. For example, if everyone washes their hands upon arrival at home then stick to this. If you take a bath, then brush your teeth and then hear a bedtime story then keep this routine. The more consistent you are as a parent the more cooperative your child will become.

8. Warn of transitions – at school children are informed when transitions are going to happen so they can finish what they are doing; do the same at home. If your child’s bedtime is coming up in 15 minutes, then in 10 minutes give a reminder to start cleaning up because it is almost time. Set a timer for 15 minutes so they hear and have an audible signal to cease the action.

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