I heard from several of you that the blog post about social development was good information. I’m glad it was helpful. I know I promised to talk about appropriate discipline however I thought of a few more social expectations for the preschool age.
* Social greetings are something kids practice. At these ages children should be encouraged to greet people as they speak to them. If someone says “Hello” to you it is appropriate to respond with a “Hello” or “Good morning.” You can talk with your child about this and even make a game of it in the house. Sporadically throughout the day (say when your child walks into the kitchen while you are preparing a meal) give them a verbal greeting. You can even do this in a silly voice if the practice seems to be losing it’s impact. Have your child respond appropriately. I had a child come in the other day at preschool arrival. I said “Good morning.” She proceeded to look at me and then turn away and walk through the door without a greeting. I followed this up by going to her and explaining that it is polite to respond to a greeting. I asked her to please reply to my greeting the next day. She hasdone that – every day since!
* You want me to do what? I have found for some, especially the more quiet children, it is helpful if they have some prep before a social setting. Explain what (or who) they will be seeing and some possible social situations. Give them specific words to say. For instance, when we visit my father, who is blind, at his nursing home our granddaughter is intimidated by the sounds of the oxygen machine and the unusual surroundings. When I prepare her in advance that Pop Pop cannot see her so it is great if she can say a loud, “Hi, Pop Pop.” He appreciates that. I don’t require much more as far as her interactions. Instead we often sing a song for him which is something she enjoys and we can do this together. For many of us summer often involves large family gatherings such as reunions or vacations, etc. It is a good idea to have photos of people in advance and talk about each person’s name and maybe how they are related. This isn’t to quiz your child but rather to help him or her feel more comfortable. Even with all that, some children can feel overwhelmed and will need an “out” for some interactions. It’s okay to say to someone, “She is needing some reassurance right now. Perhaps you can talk with her later.
* No, thank you. I mentioned in my first post about helping children interact with others in public situations. At preschool ages it is time to begin explaining about the limitations of actions with strangers. I believe it is still okay, and even important, to teach a simple greeting to people you meet in public – when they are with a responsible adult. Mary Rigdon reminded me that a child also has the right to say, “No, thank you” if asked to fist bump or shake hands, etc. and they are not comfortable doing that. Here is a good article that talks about teaching stranger safety (I prefer calling it this rather than stranger danger) in a way that doesn’t frighten children.
I do look forward to writing about appropriate discipline. Watch for that soon.