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  • Writer's picture Sally Rustomji

They know they are not allowed to. So why do they do it?

Have you ever thought, “They know they are not allowed to climb on the table/run away from the table with food/run around the room/pull the leaves off the plant/ hide all the toys/climb on the chair…”?

Children indeed have a very good memory.

That said, they are also very impulsive and their impulse control is still developing.

So even if they may know what is expected, it doesn’t mean they are able to control their urges to cooperate.

That is why the role of the adult is so important in our setting.

We are there to remind them, to keep everyone safe, and to step back for them to try again.

We step in as little as possible, but as much as necessary.

We never assume that children know. So we need to be prepared to remind them a mere 1,000 times if needed.

In a kind and clear way.

Think of ourselves. If you’ve ever tried to give up sugar, coffee, go running every day, not snack between meals etc, even though we know what we are supposed to do, how many times do we give in?

Or how much willpower does it take?

Even better if we have supportive people to keep us on track.

Not to reprimand us, but remind us what we promised ourselves, and to make it better if needed.

So here are a few examples of things I say when I am working with the children .

“It will be available soon.” (to a child having a hard time waiting for an activity)

“The paint goes on the paper.” (to a child heading towards the mouth, floor or wall with paint)

“Yes, you can have another fishcake when you’ve finished that one.” (to a child still eating)

“It goes here.” (tapping the shelf where an activity can be returned).

"We need your shoes on" ( to the child racing off in the other direction)

In a clam, kind clear way..........

”So, yes, they may know they aren’t allowed to do certain things. But we should be there to positively remind them (as many times as needed) in a kind and clear way, when they “forget.”

Staying kind and calm works every time over shouting and loosing it!

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