Advice from Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers are often fabulous at nurturing independence, cooperation, patience, and self-control in young kids. Why? They've developed an arsenal of tactics for dealing with kids of every possible personality. And they don't get bogged down by mommy guilt. Here are their classroom-tested tips for solving common behavior issues like getting little kids to share, listen, clean up, and more.

"My son has a tantrum whenever one of his friends starts to play with his toys."

  • Let him hide his favorites. Meltdowns happen when a child feels he has no control over a situation. Before a get-together, let him choose a few toys to stash away. "That gives him a say in the matter and makes him more inclined to share his other things willingly," says Terese Parker, a teacher at the Kirkwood United Methodist Preschool, in Kirkwood, Missouri.
  • Lead by example. When two children in her class fight over a toy, Deborah Field, a teacher at the Temple Beth El Preschool, in Swampscott, Massachusetts, tells them, "Actually, that's mine, and I'm letting you have a turn because it makes me happy." She suggests buying a small truck that you designate as "Mommy's toy." Then, if your child won't let a buddy use his things, offer the friend "your" toy -- and say how nice it is to watch him play with it.
  • Create a sharing story. Staple several pieces of construction paper together, and make a picture book. On the first page, show your child refusing to share and his friend frowning. Then show him pondering the options, such as offering a different toy or taking turns. The final entry should be a picture of the children playing together nicely. "Read it every day," Parker suggests. "It will give him cues about how to behave, and soon he'll make the correct choices himself."

Why Preschool Matters
Why Preschool Matters

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