Archive for December, 2015

Smart Love Corner: Parenting Q&A

All the questions and answers come directly from Smart Love Solutions in Early Childhood-A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Caregivers by Drs. Martha Heineman Pieper and William J. Pieper.

Q: How to teach kids virture

I have three boys who are ages ten, six and four. My six- and four-year-olds play wonderfully together by always compromising and working out their disagreements. When my ten-year-old gets involved the “fireworks” start. He and his six-year-old brother have very opposite personalities. My ten-year-old seems to always want to tease and leave out the six-year-old. He basically only wants to play with his youngest brother, because they get along so well. I am not sure how to handle this situation. Do I force him to play with both of them? Do I explain to him how incredibly unkind it is to leave his brother out and making him cry; believe me, I’ve tried. I am at my wit’s end; what should I do?

A: You raise a problem that every parent confronts at some point, which is how to teach vitue. As you have realized lectures and shaming make children feel terrible, but do not change their behavior (at least when adults are not around). Forcing your ten-year-old to include the six-year-old in his play will prove just as counterproductive, because it will make him angrier at the six-year-old and less inclined to play with him.

We are all born with a strong desire to become like those who are important to us. So, the best way to teach children to share and to care is to treat them with compassion and generosity. Over time children will emulate these positive responses and learn to be caring toward themselves and others.

When your ten-year-old is teasing your six-year-old try to put your anger to one side and offer a positive response your children can emulate. For example you might ask the ten-year-old if he would like to play a game with you. The two younger children can then play peacefully, and you have defused the situation without shaming or angering the ten-year-old. A second alternative is to let the ten-year-old and four-year-old play, and involve the six-year-old in a game or other activity. If, as is likely, the other two children ask to play with you and the remaining brother, you can include them with the result that the ten-year-old will see both that you want to include everyone, and also that it really is possible for all of the brothers to play together happily.


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