Trick for Cooperation Starting at Preschool Milestone 5: Tell Them a Story

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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2 thoughts on “Trick for Cooperation Starting at Preschool Milestone 5: Tell Them a Story

  1. A says:

    This trick works for me although it’s been going on for perhaps a year and my child is 3 yrs 3 mths. I began telling stories to brush their hair and then it grew into our everyday lives and now the first thing they say on waking is ‘tell me a big long story about…’. The words used to put dread in my heart as I’m not a natural storyteller but now I enjoy it and invest in the connection it provides. We tell the stories together and I provide questions and options along the way for her to send them in new directions. Sometimes it gets out of hand and I feel like I’m telling a story all day just to get through it but mostly it’s a rich part of our connection and communication. And it still gets hair brushed, teeth brushed, medicine done etc. And I will try to volunteer it more often now for other situations rather than only ‘on demand’. Even if there are times when I have to say I’m ‘storied out’. Words which are luckily received with acceptance. Thanks for the wonderful blog and milestones.

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