When your child begins preschool, you have to deal with not only letting go of your little one (who seems to be growing up too fast), but also with all the changes that will occur as your child interacts with other children.
Interacting with children in their age group is a great learning process, but there are a few things they will learn that you may not deem appropriate for your child, and you might have to 'reschool' them about what is acceptable and unacceptable.
Yulanda Anderson* has a very active three-year-old. Her son Jaeden is usually polite and is not known for tantrums and crying, but when he started preschool, all that changed.
"He never used to cry when I told him 'no'. Now he has that fake cry. There is also the 'I want this and I want that'. I teach him to ask and use please and thank you and he seems to have forgotten," a frustrated Anderson tells Outlook.
What she has to do is to reinforce what she has taught him. She admits that, when he throws a tantrum and cries, she ignores him and does not reward his behaviour by giving him the thing that he is crying for.
Child Psychologist Gemma Gibbon believes consistency is the best way to help your children develop the understanding of appropriate behaviour.
"Children are quick to adapt to different environments, but need consistency to understand the difference between expectations of behaviour in each environment - meaning that, if you allow certain behaviour to continue, they will. The best way to change or stop unwanted behaviour is to ignore the behaviour that is warranting your negative attention, praising all the good behaviour, and to try and provide an acceptable alternative of what it is they are trying to communicate by behaving badly," notes Gibbon.
Punishing the child for the change in their behaviour is not always the way to go, points out Gibbon. Punishing them too frequently can lead to the child trying to find ways to escape or outsmart the punishment, without learning the wrong or right, which will cause more harm.
"If you keep punishing your child for bad behaviour and don't teach them an alternative way, then they cannot learn how to behave appropriately. Punishing young children with slaps, straps and negative criticism, leads to low self-esteem and deceptive behaviour - meaning that, by hitting your child, you are teaching them to find clever ways to avoid being caught while still behaving the same way," Gibbon told Outlook.
She believes that, once you continuously communicate with your child about right, wrong and what is acceptable, they will eventually settle down. Just do not switch up the rules, which will confuse them.
She said that, if there is a particular behaviour that you are concerned about that was obviously picked up at school, talk informally to the teacher and see what's going on. Don't wait and see what happens, because behaviour is learned and moulded very quickly during the preschool age.
*Names changed upon request