10 Tips for Preschoolers
Preschoolers have unique discipline needs. Use these
preschool-specific tips to keep little ones moving in the right
• Stay cool. Teaching preschoolers is a very important job that
requires consistency and a calm attitude. Occasionally preschoolers
can put your patience to a grueling test. If you feel overly
frustrated, cool down as needed. Breathe slowly and deeply, pray
for guidance, and collect yourself before you attempt to discipline
a child who's pushed you to the limit.
• Build foundations. Discipline is training that strengthens.
Discipline takes time, patience, and commitment.
• Don't chastise. Punishing in anger to reform a preschooler's
behavior damages self-esteem and often results in a child becoming
angry and retaliating. Never tell a child he or she is bad.
• Let kids emote. Preschoolers throw tantrums-it's a developmental
certainty. Limit your reaction and give kids a place where they can
calm down and feel safe. Allow angry preschoolers to vent their
emotions in safe and appropriate ways-deep breaths, throwing
feathers, running, drawing, and acting out their emotions with
props such as stuffed animals.
• Praise good behavior. Set positive expectations that challenge
kids. Listen and pay attention to kids' behavior.
• Keep a routine. Every time you meet with kids, maintain the same
routine so they know what to expect. Alternate between active and
calming activities to keep kids interested and to meet their need
Preschoolers love repetition. Remind kids when a transition is
coming to keep it smooth.
• Give everything a place. Preschoolers need order to feel safe
and secure. Order and tidiness contribute to kids' sense of
well-being and help them focus.
• No never means yes. Don't give in or feel guilty. Preschoolers
learn to manipulate quickly, so say no firmly and mean it. Be
clear, sound like you mean it, and use serious facial
• Logical consequences teach responsibility. If children don't
pick up toys, they can't play with them next time. If a child uses
a bad word, give him a new word to say. Use logic kids can follow
when setting consequences.
• Know your kids. By making personal connections with kids, you'll
know how to discipline them in a way that makes them stronger. Keep
your rules simple. Don't overreact to behavior missteps.
Charlotte Inskeep has been a child care specialist for more
than 20 years in Colorado.