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Two words, many solutions



Focusing on “pre” and “and” can really help

Focusing on “pre” and “and” can really help


When I worked at a Mt. Tremper preschool from 2003 to 2007, I crossed paths with dozens of two-to-four-year olds. Some of these kids are still around, and I frequently cross paths with quite a few of them. They’re all in their late teens and early twenties now. I am continually surprised how they’ve changed, and more pointedly, how wrong I was about some of the difficult ones. I thought a few with impulse control issues were certainly headed for troubled teen years, but they’re fine. Some who had trouble making friends and seemed doomed to loneliness have in fact blossomed into social butterflies.

In her article on msn.com, writer Suzanne Zuckerman advises parents to be mindful of what I have learned: preschoolers are in their “pre-change” stage, meaning they are little works-in-progress. At the preschool we endeavored to help the aforementioned kids to no avail, but they figured things out on their own timetables. As Zuckerman pus it: “Children don’t change their behavior unless and until they are developmentally ready, or otherwise motivated, to do so. We can’t predict when or how exactly this will happen. We can’t always envision the event, friendship or new environment that will catalyze a change in our kids. But that doesn’t mean change isn’t coming.”

READ MORE: How to teach manners to the very young

The other word is “and.” It seems simple. Citing Dr. Robyn Koslowitz’s podcast Targeted Parenting she notes how two seemingly contradictory things can be true at the same time:

“Using ‘AND’ with our kids helps us convey our unshakable love and belief in them, even when it is necessary to demonstrate our disapproval of their actions.  For example I can say ‘you are a loving, gentle and kind person AND you need to learn we can’t ride on the dog. You are a hard-working, responsible student AND we need to come up with a system that helps you remember to turn in your homework. You are a loving sister AND you need to practice your tolerance skills.’

Koslowitz reminds us how language carries a lot of power, even simple words, and simple concepts. In the blur of Covid-era parenting, these can actually cut through the best.



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