Sometimes it can be hard to get your preschooler to finish a task that he has started. He may give up because it is “too hard” or “not very easy”. As parents, we need to explain the connection between effort and success to our preschooler, as it is important to learn and know that if he gives effort, he is more likely to experience success!
Teaching and role modeling important qualities to your preschooler will not only build good character, but can help him to succeed in school, as he will be more likely to excel in academics and social skills. Here are six key lessons to begin instilling in your preschooler:
1) WORK — Your child will be faced with a lot of hard work during his school years, including school work, team work, and homework. It is a good idea to teach the value of hard work while your child is still small. Giving your preschooler small jobs that he can handle is important. It is your job to show him carefully how to do each task, and help him practice. You can also be a positive role model by demonstrating pride in your work, as well as being cheerful about it.
2) RESPONSIBILITY — Inspire responsibility in your preschooler by giving him regular chores. You will need to remind him of his chores. Teach him to know that there are certain rules he must follow, such as: the toys go into the toy box at the end of each day; his teeth must be brushed before he goes to bed; his dishes must go into the sink or dishwasher at the end of the meal.
3) PERSEVERANCE — During his school career, your preschooler will find that many tasks are overwhelming. In math, he may have trouble with problem solving questions. In English, he may have a long novel to read. He’ll need to know how to stick with a task until it gets done or is understood. To help him learn how to persevere, encourage him to finish games and activities once he’s started. It’s okay to teach him that he can put a task to the side to come back to later.
4) SELF-DISCIPLINE — Our children are born without the ability to take charge of themselves — they need help learning how to control their bladder, their behaviour, and their appetite. It is a parent’s job to put limits in place in the beginning, which is meant to help your preschooler develop self-discipline. Parents can use repetition to help specific limits eventually become second nature to their preschooler.
5) RESPECT — It is important to role model and teach respect for others, especially teachers and other parents. Teaching your preschooler to live by the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated) and helping him to know that others have rights will go a long way in raising a child who demonstrates care towards others. Teach respect for property, such as how to take care of his own belongings, as well as how to care for others’ belongings. Show your preschooler how to show respect for the environment by teaching him to recycle and to keep the outdoors clean.
6) HONESTY — Set a good example for your preschooler. Avoid lying or breaking promises. Teaching your preschooler about telling the truth is important because their big imaginations can become confused with lies. You will probably know if your preschooler is telling you a story, but as they age, it may become less easy for you to know. By teaching the importance of honesty now, you will set your preschooler on a positive path.
**To read about other ideas of how to build character in your preschooler, please refer to the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets for Early Childhood as found at www.search-institute.org**