Disciplining 5 Year Olds Must Be Consistent at Home and at School

Young children crave and need routines in their lives.  It makes them feel safe when they know what to expect not only at school but at home as well.  One of the routines that often fall by the wayside in homes is discipline.  Discipline being teaching your child about right and wrong and what you will and won’t accept from their behavior.  By discipline I do not mean physically hurting your child to get them to do what you want only teaching appropriate and acceptable behaviors. Year after year, and this year is no different, there will always be some children who test the teacher at every possible turn.  More often than not, these children also test their parents and win!  This ‘winning situation’ is seen as power by 5 year olds and they don’t understand why it doesn’t work at school. Some children learn at home that if they push and push and push the adults, eventually the adults will be too tired/frustrated/worn out and will just give in.  Sound familiar?  Parents will say to me at conferences in November, how do you do it?  They won’t listen to me and I don’t know what to do.  Parents, you MUST get a handle on your 5 year olds behavior, it takes work, just like it takes lots of work for me at school to get 50 children a day to follow and obey ALL of my class behavior rules.  We work day after day after day on the same issues and by mid October MOST of the children understand them and then we are able to pick up the pace on academic learning. Who doesn’t get it?  Who is a repeat visitor to the time out table?  Almost always a child who exhibits the same oppositional behaviors at home but the consistency needed from the adults to correct the behaviors hasn’t been given.  I often hear, ‘this doesn’t happen at home’ or ‘this didn’t happen in preschool.’ Children are very smart and learn quickly what they can and cannot get away with and who they can get away with it from. They also learn quickly which adults will take the time to correct their behaviors and which adults will let them slide and not address them at all.  The time to regain control is now, middle school and high school come sooner than you can believe and I can assure you that if you cannot parent your child at 5, you will need lots more than luck when they are a teenager.

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