One day we were making frog puppets in preschool. The eyes are made with a marshmallow cut in half and glued onto the puppet with some wiggly eyes glued to the marshmallow. After the children made their puppet, they were given a marshmallow to eat.
One of the little boys in the class and his family did something they called “healthy living.” This meant he almost always turned down sweet treats given in preschool. It was amazing to see the discipline he displayed with this! On the day we had marshmallows, however, he came to me and said, “I think I’ll have a marshmallow. My mom lets me choose if I want to do healthy living.” I gave him one and he went off to play.
A few minutes later I heard someone crying. I discovered it was this boy. He was very upset and kept saying, “Now my mom will know I didn’t do healthy living!” As he said this, he held out the frog. Both of the marshmallow eyes had been bitten all around the outside, leaving just a small piece of each marshmallow in the middle with the wiggly eyes barely hanging on!
His mouth and hands were sticky and he was so sad about disappointing his mom. I reassured him she loved him, even if he had eaten the marshmallows. We removed the eyes and replaced them with some new eyes, and all was well!
Children are “pleasers.” They want the people who are important in their lives to be proud of them and happy with them. They feel disappointment when they feel like they don’t measure up. As parents, teachers, and significant adults in a child’s life, we can help them build self-esteem by praising them and reinforcing their positive actions, but also realizing sometimes they won’t measure up and might make mistakes.
It’s important to help them understand that although we may be disappointed in their actions, we always love them! It’s also really important that we are mindful of the words we say, the beliefs we portray through our actions, and the value we appear to place on things. Whether intended or not, these behaviors can shape our children’s self-esteem and influence on others.
Kids Are Like Parrots
Another day in preschool, a little boy came into school and said in a very slow drawl, “I hate Winnie the Pooh! Do you know why I hate Winnie the Pooh? Cause he’s stupid and he’s dumb!” He had older brothers, so he had probably been influenced by them.
A few minutes later another child said they hated something, and the first child immediately cautioned him, saying, “Hate is a strong word!” He had obviously heard that from a parent when he used the word “hate” and was passing the warning on to the other child!
Then the door opened up and a cute little girl came strolling in singing one of the current pop hits… a song most preschoolers would not know… and most parents would not want their preschooler to sing! This little girl had teenage sisters at home, so she often came in with make up on or her hair all done up in a new style.
She hung her coat and backpack and loudly said, “Who wants to have a makeover?” The other children just stared at her, with no idea what she was talking about. She shrugged her shoulders and started singing her song again!
Be Mindful Of Your Example
Children are often mirrors of what they see and hear those around them do and say. We frequently hear children say things in preschool that are very funny, but the parent might be horrified if they knew their secrets were being shared by their preschoolers.
Kids are like sponges. They hear and see and pick up things that happen around them. Be careful about the things you say and do, because your children are watching! Something you struggle with — like healthy body image, gossiping, or swearing — can be easily picked up and impressed upon them. But the good news is healthy, wholesome habits and beliefs can be as well!
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kari Taylor and Marny Hazeldine. You can follow them on Pinterest and purchase their preschool curriculum here. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.
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