A trick that I found beautifully, which started to work well at Preschool Milestone 5, is to tell the child a story. Preschool Milestone 5 is 3 years, 3 months. So say they are unwilling to go down a flight of stairs because they are scared. You have your hands full with bags and a toddler. You might start in some other things like validating their emotions but one tool that I find is super powerful at this age is to tell them a story. You might start talking about The Little Mermaid. This actually happened to us when we were on vacation once. I find it’s as if they are hypnotized. It was my daughter who was scared to go down the stairs. While being told the story, she held my hand and went down without complaint.
About 3 years, 3 months
Or another time it worked is when my son, also this age, locked himself in a public bathroom stall. What are you doing to do? I might have climbed under the door, but that would have been difficult. I could have threatened him (though this is against my parenting paradigm) but he had all the power in this situation. I promised to tell him his favorite story, which at the time was about Gopal in Indian Tales. I didn’t say “If you unlock the door, then I’ll tell the story.” I just started telling the story. It comforted him and in this comfort, he unlocked the door.
Preschool Milestone 5 is “Principles Applied to Past, Present and Future.” They can understand something like “Eating too many cookies will give you a big belly.” Similarly, they can follow along with the plot of a longer story, such as The Little Mermaid. As you are talking about their favorite story, ask them occasionally what happens next. They probably know! And so in doing this, this time of conflict turns into a great educational opportunity as you work on their reading comprehension!
I found this can work until some time in the mid 4s.
Working on Misbehavior is Growth: Preschoolers Now. See Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to the Toddler Years. Drop me a line if this tool works for you!
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