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Developing “Little People” Skills

April 2003 Issue

Safety On Wheels

Digital Photography

Quick Sweet
Summer Treats

A Cure for the
Backseat Blues

Developing “Little
People” Skills

Did You Know?

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Throughout our lifetimes, we encounter people and situations that provide interpersonal challenges. Unfortunately, we rarely get along with everyone with whom we come in contact. Things are no different for children, and there are some basic elements that are simply good, sound foundational practices that you can share with your child at an early age to help him or her coexist with peers in childhood and throughout life. Some interpersonal characteristics come naturally to children, but others may need to be learned through some practice. Hopefully, each of these actions will make getting along with others a bit less challenging.

Sharing: Learning to share is one of the most important lessons in our lives, and sharing pays benefits throughout the years as well. Start teaching your child to share at an early age, but be aware that other children may not be as progressive about sharing. Praise your child when he or she does share so that he or she has a good feeling about sharing with others. If you witness a situation where another child doesn’t share with your child, simply initiate some sharing of your own to set a good example. Your child will learn to associate happiness and contentment with the act of sharing, and will establish good sharing habits that will last a lifetime.

Know how to control anger: Anger is a natural emotion that emerges when things do not go as planned or we feel we have been wronged in some way. It is acceptable to become angry, but not to express anger in a tantrum. Teach your child that yelling, screaming, throwing things and other physical outbursts are not appropriate ways to deal with anger and that they actually make the situation worse. Teach them to calmly deal with the situation that is making them angry by stating what is upsetting to them and talking about it. Another option is to teach your child to remove himself or herself from the situation to allow time to calm down and think about what has angered them.

Politeness: Proper manners have become lost in the hectic nature of our lives. The simple act of saying “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” can bring a smile to someone’s face, as well as show an element of respect. Teaching this at an early age will make politeness come naturally to your child as he or she becomes older. Your child will emulate your behavior, so set a good example. Demonstrate that it is difficult to be rude to someone who is being courteous to you. When in doubt, “kill them with kindness!”

Treat others as you would like to be treated: There is a reason it is called the “Golden Rule.” By taking into consideration how we wish others to react to us and treating them with the same dignity and respect, we make each of our interactions with those around us reasonable and thoughtful. From simply being polite to allowing adequate time to respond to a request, people are far more likely to listen and be willing to assist if they feel courtesy and respect in return. Teach your child that there is a good feeling that comes from making someone else feel good.

Patience: Another characteristic that has fallen to the wayside in our fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle is patience. With time at a premium throughout our days, we get frustrated, anxious, short-tempered and are more prone to angry outbursts. Children learn by example, and seeing a parent yell and curse while sitting in traffic sets that as an example of appropriate behavior in that situation. Try slowing things down a bit and allow extra blocks of time in your day when you know you are going to be pushed to get everything done. Teach your child to plan their time accordingly as well. Things do not always happen in the timeframe we expect, and anger rarely makes the situation better in either the short or long term.

If you notice your child has a difficult time controlling anger or interacting with other children, consult with his or her teacher(s) and your pediatrician—they may be able to help shed some light on the situation. Learning how to take a step back, take a few deep breaths and allow emotions to settle is an ability that will reap benefits throughout your child’s life and make situations easier for you as well!

Did You Know?
According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, about 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms each year with injuries. Of that number, about 67,000 have head injuries.2

2Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute website; June 25, 2004; www.bhsi.org/stats/htm.

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