I’m sure that if you have a child in the 3’s or 4’s program you’ve seen some wild springtime behavior lately, and I’ve heard from some parents that they are at wit’s end with the testing, the bad behavior, and the rudeness exhibited by their children.
My advice to these weary parents: be kind, set limits, and be willing to tuck your child under your arm and exit any given situation that is not working. The two biggest tools your children will use to maintain control of a situation are tantrums and tears. Do not be afraid of these early childhood tools, rather embrace them and come to understand how it is they are being used.
If you set limits on behavior, your kind but firm discipline is teaching self-discipline, which is the ultimate goal of parenting. Once your child has achieved the self-discipline to control his or her impulses (to bite, hit, push, scream, tantrum, etc.) then they can move on to higher-level learning. As kindergarten nears, the children who have learned the art of impulse control are at a great advantage because they are ready to watch, listen, think, and respond, and they are ready for learning.
I’ll give you an example of how we set limits at nursery school. When we have a child in a snack group who is distracting the other students or is really testing, it can make it hard for a teacher to promote snack time discussion and get any of the children to pay attention. Now, let me reassure you that all preschoolers are working on the skills of focus, turn taking, listening, and sharing, but sometimes there is a particularly difficult situation where one child is really impacting a classroom. We’ll give that child loads of opportunities to tune back in, but if that doesn’t work we might give the child the choice between sitting outside with our resource teacher until they are “in control of their body” or staying at the snack table and being “in control of their body.” If it becomes apparent that the child cannot, for all sorts of different possible reasons like youngness, asthma meds, or desire for attention, keep it together, we’ll take them outside the classroom and have them sit quietly with a teacher.
They don’t get yelled at or threatened. We don’t roll our eyes at them or tell them that we are disappointed in them. We just have a teacher sit with them quietly until they are ready to go back in to try again and we let them know that we care about them. Some children sit with a teacher and sob. They are held close but not brought back into snack until they can pull it together. Some snuggle in and need reassurance that we still love them, which they get. But the vast majority of children just need the simple step of being walked outside to know that they have hit a boundary. These children quickly turn and say, “I’m ready to go back in.” This is limit setting in a kind but firm way.
You and your child can leave just about any situation that is not working: leave, remain calm, and carry on. Your child will learn about boundaries and behavior and make that important connection. Testing, tantrums, and tears are their tools, and your walking feet are your tools. You will be building your child’s self confidence as he or she grows in the ability to handle situations in more mature and appropriate ways.
And remember, you can always learn more about Positive Discipline and how to handle these tricky testing problems by borrowing one of our Jane Nelsen Positive Discipline books from the First Congo Lending Library.
Transition time is upon us, and the children are aware, however subconsciously, that things are about to change up. The result at school is that we are seeing a lot of ramped up energy and some undesirable behaviors. This is actually reassuring in a number of ways: first, it indicates that these children are right on target developmentally, doing what we would expect them to do; second, it indicates that these children are very comfortable and feel very safe here at school, knowing that they will be supported in their growth as they ‘try on’ new behaviors and explore boundaries; third, it is a reminder to us as educators about the power of consistency and calm as tools in guiding growth and supporting learning.
It is our hope that you will be able to share your anticipation of the move into summer schedules, and perhaps away from First Congo, in such a matter-of-fact way as to create confidence. Sometimes, if too much energy is brought to reassuring, it actually serves to undermine a child’s confidence because the unspoken suggestion is that there must be something to worry about! Your calm in the face of change can be borrowed by your child if need be, until he or she is ready to handle the changes that are inconsistent with what has come before, until those new realities become a consistent part of their experience. The teaching staff will continue to present our calm and consistent selves at school both for the sake of easing the upcoming transitions and in managing the day-to-day before those transitions occur, being kind but firm in our interactions with your delightful children. We hope you may be inspired to find your own calm and consistent self, kind but firm, so that you might discover your own delight in your sweet children!
Upcoming Calendar Items
May Fete Parade
First Congo families are invited to march behind our banner on Saturday, May 5th. Check the gate at school this week for information about where we will be lining up.
Celebrating Our Teachers Event
First Congo parents (current and former) are invited to join the staff in the garden on the evening of May 12th from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Please RSVP to email@example.com if you plan to join us!
Mitchell Park will be the site for our End-of-the-Year Picnic on Sunday, May 20th from 3:00 – 5:30. Watch for your invitation soon!
All paperwork for students returning to First Congo in the fall is due on May 25th. All of the required forms are available on our website from the pull-down menu under Our Families. You may fill them out online before printing, signing, and returning to school. Photos for coat hooks may be submitted electronically this year.
Last Day(s) of School
May 29th, 30th, and 31st mark the last days for each of the respective Two’s classes. The Three’s will finish up the year on the 31st, and the final day of class for the Four’s will be June 1st. Families are invited to bring a sack lunch and stay on a bit after school for a picnic to mark the transition into summer!
We’d like to give a shout out to Jen Glos (mother of Kashi in the 4’s) for organizing the Spring Moms’ Night Out event — thank, Jen!
A second shout out goes to Amy McGaraghan (mother of Paige in the 3’s) who will become our new Registrar. After years of dedicated service, Christie Callaghan is stepping aside as her youngest child moves on from First Congo — thanks for all you’ve put into the job, Christie! And thanks to Amy for stepping up to the plate, newborn in tow!
The Graham family (Jessica, Paul, and son George) welcomed a second son (Hugo) into their home recently, and the McGaraghans (Amy, John, and daughters Paige and Fiona) also have a new baby boy (PJ) — congratulations to both families!