Raising Preschoolers: Parenting for Today

Raising Preschoolers: Parenting for Today



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780609801635
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/12/1997
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.54(d)

Read an Excerpt

It's much in style to give children choices. The belief commonly held by many parents is that if you give children choices they will more likely agree to do what they are supposed to do. Parents also tend to believe that decision making is good intellectual exercise for making intelligent choices later in life. Many parents see giving choices as the best way to teach assertiveness.

The Principle of Choices

Preschool children should be allowed to make some choices The principle to remember in giving your children choices is to give them only the choices they are capable of making responsibly and not to give them choices when you know what is best for them and the consequences are dangerous or not immediately obvious to the children.

It's inappropriate to believe that natural consequences suffice to teach preschool children how to make appropriate choices. Preschool children are very concrete in their thinking. They cannot project the future yet. The only consequences that affect their further decision making are the consequences that immediately follow their choices, and some of those are too risky and some are too abstract for them to understand.

For example, in child proofing your home (see chapter 6), you put safety plugs into outlets so that children won't get electric shocks during their explorations. The natural consequence, an electric shock, would be immediate and would prevent any further exploration of electrical outlets, but the risks are too great, and children don't have the judgment to make that decision. Your safety plug is used as a limit to prevent an irresponsible choice.

Here's another example: Suppose you decide to give your children choices of anything they want for breakfast, and your daughter picks a chocolate candy bar. The immediate consequence of that choice would be the good sweet taste, and she would undoubtedly choose it again and again if you continued to give her the choices. She cannot automatically know about the poor nutritional value of a chocolate candy bar. If she's accustomed to having all the choices and you said no to her chocolate candy request, the arguments would begin. You can probably hear her now: "It has milk in it, and you give me chocolate milk," or "It tastes better than cereal." And a battle would be on. However, if your daughter is accustomed to your giving her a narrower set of choices -- "Would you like cereal or French toast?" -- she could make that choice, and you could feel comfortable about giving her either. You have given her a developmentally appropriate choice.

Here's a third, quite common example of giving children appropriate choices: Your four-year-old son takes naps intermittently. He's at the stage where he's almost outgrown napping, but not quite. He seems tired and cranky, and you know a nap would be good for him. If you give him a choice about taking a nap, you can absolutely count on a "no," a power struggle, and tears. Instead, tell him he may choose whether to have quiet time to look at books on his bed or take a nap. He'll remind you that he doesn't want to nap and that he's too big for a nap but will probably be asleep before he finishes his first book. Either choice will be effective. If he doesn't fall asleep during his quiet time, he undoubtedly required only the quiet time, and you can feel confident that he at least had the opportunity to nap.

Preschoolers are capable of making choices between two or three possibilities that are all good for them (as in the cereal-French toast example). By and large, that means you shouldn't ask children if they want to nap, want to go to bed, want to take a bath, want to eat, or want to pick up their toys These decisions are all your responsibility. As children mature and learn about healthy habits, they'll be in better positions to make these choices responsibly, and you will avoid many of the battles that you see other parents struggle with. In short, don't give choices to children where you will accept only one or you are not being fair. An argument will surely follow.

Parents Need Assertiveness

Sometimes it seems as if in the process of teaching children assertiveness, parents lose their own assertiveness They are so anxious to please their children, they leave themselves powerless and without family leadership. Children who grow up being given all the choices learn to expect to have all the choices, and that power leaves their parents with very few choices. When you know what's best, be positive and direct, and your children will have confidence in your guidance. They will also feel more secure.

Summary Advice

  • Offer children choices appropriate to their developmental responsibility.
  • In order for preschoolers to learn from consequences, have consequences follow immediately.
  • Offer only choices where all choices they make are appropriate.
  • Be positive and direct when you know what's best and children don't.

Excerpted from RAISING PRESCHOOLERS: PARENTING FOR TODAY, Copyright © 1997 by Dr. Sylvia Rimm. Published by Three Rivers Press, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

1.Planning Your Preschooler's Day16
Using a Schedule17
2.Enriching Your Children's Environment23
Toys That Teach24
Gender Stereotypes in Play25
Reading, Talking, and Questioning25
Game Playing26
Community Enrichment28
Lessons and Classes28
Physical Fitness28
Specialty Learning29
Avoiding Overprogramming30
3.Social-Emotional Learning36
Kindness and Consideration38
Expressing Feelings and Developing Sensitivity40
Me Firsters and Poor Losers41
Chasing, Roughhousing, and Tickling41
Chores and Responsibilities42
Helping Children Learn About Their Bodies43
Play Groups45
Birthday Parties47
The Important Relationship Between Discipline and Freedom53
The V of Love55
Routines and Flexibility57
5.Appropriate Choices60
The Principle of Choices60
Parents Need Assertiveness62
6.Childproofing: Playpens, Gates, and Fences67
Restrictions That Allow Freedom68
7.Rewards and Punishments72
Intrinsic Rewards72
Referential Speaking74
Negative Attention75
Material Rewards76
8.To Spank or Use Time-Out81
A No-Win Situation81
Parental Disagreement82
The Risks of Abuse83
Providing Safety and Adult Care84
Cribs, Chairs, and Bedrooms84
Using a Timer85
Understanding the Reason85
Overempowered Children85
9.Team Support94
Team Involvement by Fathers95
How It Feels97
10.Finding Good Day Care for Your Preschooler101
Classroom Organization102
Fostering the Love of Books103
Art, Creative Expression, and Curiosity103
Music, Dance, and Movement103
Outdoor Play and Exploration103
Academic Preparation104
Value Systems104
Freedom to Choose Within Limitations104
Alternative Child-Care Providers105
Selecting a Child-Care Provider106
Home Child Care107
11.Communication with Your Child-Care Providers115
Other Child-Care Providers118
After Divorce119
Private Communication121
12.When a New Baby Comes123
When Baby Comes124
Symptoms of Sibling Rivalry125
13.Sibling Rivalry127
Secrets and Surprises128
Building Cooperative Relationships128
Setting Limits129
14.Temper Tantrums133
The Frustration Tantrum133
The Disappointment Tantrum134
Too Much Talk134
Team Response134
15.Aggressiveness and Assertiveness136
Hitting, Pushing, and Teasing138
Causes of Aggressive Behavior138
Television and Video Games139
Parent Sabotage139
Illness and Allergy139
Prevention of Aggressive Behaviors140
Taunted Children140
The Risk of Overprotection140
Differentiating Tattling and Reporting141
Bad Dreams146
Coping Tools146
Especially Fearful Children146
Referential Speaking147
17.Food and Fitness153
Picky Eaters157
Overweight Children158
Staying United at Mealtimes158
Physical Fitness159
18.Sleep Issues163
Bedtime Avoidance164
Pacifying Devices165
Bedtime Fears166
Postponing Bedtime166
United Sleep Routines168
19.Toilet Training and Bed-Wetting175
Initiating Toilet Training175
Bowel Movement Training177
Nighttime Training177
Consulting Your Pediatrician177
20.Traveling with Your Preschooler181
Automobile Travel181
Air Travel183
Independent Air Travel184
The Well-Stocked Travel Bag185
21.When Both Parents Have Careers187
When Work Schedules Differ187
Finding Help188
Career Travel189
No Need to Apologize190
22.Nontraditional Families192
Adopted Children192
Foster Children193
If Father Is the Homemaker195
Mother-Led Families196
If There Is Only a Father197
When Grandparents Do the Parenting198
Blending Families199
23.Getting Ready for Kindergarten205
Pre-Kindergarten Assessment206
Delayed Entrance to Kindergarten206
Early Entrance to Kindergarten208
Preparation for Kindergarten208
24.Grandparents Are Important212
Grandparents as Caretakers212
Sharing of Skills and Interests213
Gift Giving213
Holidays and Traditions213
25.Developing Your Own Parenting Style220
Unsolicited Advice221
Building Confidence in Your Parenting221

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