Cultivate a calm attitude when talking or working with children. A quiet manner helps prevent excitement and over-stimulation.
Rules are simple and basic. A child is free to explore as long as he or she:
- does not hurt self or others
- does not destroy equipment or material
- does not disturb others.
In giving directions, be sure that the child understands. When you talk to children, get to their level both in your choice of words and by bending down.
A child is not forced to participate. Some children need a “looking on” period before they are willing to try a new activity or participate in a group experience.
Suggest the next specific act when a child dawdles. “Where is your towel?” when a child continues washing too long.
Give the child a choice of action when feasible. Ask: “Where would you like to put up your train here or there?” This gives the child a personal interest in the situation and develops her initiative and independence.
Offer the child a choice only when you can accept his negative reply. Don’t say, “Do you want to go to the toilet?” when it is time to go!
Let your child learn by experience. Encourage him to help himself; offer assistance only when it is necessary to avoid a feeling of failure or discouragement. Perhaps you could do it faster and better for him, but through doing it himself, the child is learning.
Encourage the child whenever possible, especially after a disappointment or infraction of the rules. “We’ll try again tomorrow” gives hope. “That was hard work, but you certainly kept trying” recognizes the effort, regardless of the product.
Children may need help in learning how to use items such as paste, paint, and water. When possible, however, let them experience it in their own way. Avoid making models or samples for the children to copy. Judgments of the finally product aren’t necessary.
Use DO’s instead of DON’Ts. “Do drink your juice, Mary” instead of, “Don’t jiggle your glass.”
Give children fair warning before interrupting their activity. “OK, we are going to clean up or put away our toys in 5 minutes.”
When children are in social conflict let them work through it if they can. Remember that sharing is a concept foreign to two year olds, and just emerging in three and four year olds. Step in when it is necessary to avoid injury or to suggest a possible solution.
Disapprove of the act and not the child. “What you did made me very angry.”
Avoid discussing children in their presence.
Most important: relax and enjoy yourself.