How to encourage a 2-5 year old to behave properly?

Early year’s children are not yet able to recognize feelings, they find it difficult to control their behavior. The age range of 2 to 5 years is special – our little ones tend to try their limits, so at this age it is crucial to teach the child to control behavior and express their emotions in acceptable ways. It is important that both teachers at school and parents at home encourage positive, friendly and warm communication, do not apply punishments, because these punishments will not teach the child to behave properly, but will simply encourage them to avoid punishment”, – notes Birutė Mačiulienė, Head of Eureka Vilnius branch and together with the teacher Juste Petkuviene shares methodologies which are used at school, which are also suitable for use at home.

How to encourage children to behave properly? Is there any substantial provision to promote positive behavior?

M: It is important to have class / home agreements both at school and at home. It is best to illustrate the agreements with pictures and to hang such a map of the agreements in a visible place, which will help you to remember and apply the rules on a daily basis. Although not all children aged 2-5 recognize the letters, we recommend that agreements be written down to supplement the illustrations. Settlement maps are like a starting point for noticing and praising good behavior, as well as for identifying and stopping bad behavior. It is important that the rules / agreements are named not only by the teachers or parents, but also by the children themselves. Before carrying out certain activities, it is necessary to repeat the rules relevant to those activities. For example, before going to the city, we remember: we always hold on to the rope, we hear and see the teacher.

P: For example, in our class with the children in September, we mentioned the following agreements that we came up with in real situations are important to us: in the morning we greet friends and teachers; after we eat and play – we leave our space clean; we use such a words like please, sorry, thank you; the ears hear, the eyes see; we talk one by one; we don’t run in class; we speak in an inner voice in class; we are all friends. We constantly remember these agreements and talk about the possible consequences of not complying with them, such as after running we are falling and getting injured.

M: Not only the maps of agreements, but also the maps of reflection are important? In the evening, the children take a self-esteemed day in a reflection ladder. They not only self-assess their behavior, but at the same time summarize the day, telling the classmates and teachers what they did today and what else is needed to be done. Some families also use the ladder method at home on weekends, which helps to consistently follow agreements and promote positive child behavior.

What helps prevent anger attacks?

M: In each class we have small wooden houses, which we have named “Safe place” zones. These areas are designed to find peace of mind, to step away from unacceptable activities, to read a book quietly or to simply observe classmates, to think about their behavior. Children can go here themselves or be encouraged by a teacher. It is important to name in the classroom that the child is “untouchable” in this safe area and can be safe. At the houses we have information (visual illustrated with pictures) about how the child can calm down, recognize their emotions, some means to calm down. Such a safe area can also be discovered at home.

P: I can give some examples:

Flower-fire sticks. They can be used by children while he or she feels anger. A flower stick is held in one hand – we smell it imagining that it is an extremely fragrant flower, in the other hand we hold fire stick – we blow out the inhaled air, we imagine that we blow a real fire.

Another remedy kept in the house is anger bottles. These are plastic bottles with beads and sequins, and the child calms down by shaking the bottle.

Footprints of anger. We have a special area in the house to quench our anger. When other calm ways to calm down do not help – we offer children to get angry in the place provided.

Posters illustrating ways to calm down so that the child does not forget them and is able to perform soothing exercises properly.

Photos of emotions. Pictures of various emotions hang in the cottage to help the child self-assess his condition and decide how he would like to feel.

How to react to child abuse?

M: At school we follow the rule of three warnings. Seeing the child’s misbehavior, the teacher gives the first warning and tells what effect awaits the child after the third warning, after giving the second warning, the consequence is re-named, after the third warning the consequence is necessarily enforced. The consequence must be logical and feasible. For example, if the toys were not putted into the box after the third warning, the teacher collects the toys, but the child can no longer play with them that day, or by teasing a friend after the third warning, he is offered to leave the educational activity and calm down in the Safe place.

P: I would like to note that we do not use the three warnings rules when a child’s behavior endangers the safety of another child, such as beating, pinching, moistening and other physical actions that endanger the safety and health of another child – these kind of situations are stopped immediately. It is important to fulfill the consequences, often even in the city I see situations where parents promise, for example, in the event of a child’s hysteria, to leave the store but remain in it. The consequences must be such that we can meet them.

M: Kimočiai, a popular tool in Eureka, is a very effective tool in conflict situations. These are characteristic characters – plush toys, which, by telling various stories, help children to know their emotions, to react empathetically to the feelings of a friend. When the misbehavior is stopped, several Kimočiai come to class and play out the situation that just happened. Children see it “from the outside” and can name for themselves what is the best way to resolve this conflict? How could the children have behaved differently? What behavior would have been appropriate?