Perseverance is the ability to overcome obstacles and the desire to continue to work toward a goal or task even when challenges are involved.
The ability to persevere and overcome challenges is key to success in work and personal relationships. Many children struggle in class but continue to study and improve. Others miss the goal when shooting for the win, but keep trying and playing. Preparing your child to handle setbacks well contributes powerfully to their future success. When a child is 3 or 4, learning to persevere often starts by trying something at which he or she is naturally skilled. This could be puzzles, building blocks, coloring or painting, depending on the child. As your child gets better at doing puzzles, for instance, she may then learn to persevere in areas in which she’s not as skilled. You can help lay the foundation for your child’s future success by teaching him about failure and perseverance now.
A great way to discuss perseverance with your small child is to read books together where the characters overcome obstacles. For example, The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper is a classic story about a train engine who perseveres and succeeds. For a lesson about failure and quitting, Winners Never Quit!, by Mia Hamm, is another good book to read together.
Try to let your child fail from time to time. If your child is working on a puzzle or trying to zip his jacket and you see him struggling, try not to step in immediately. Allowing your child time to work through frustrating and difficult tasks will help build his perseverance. Even if your child isn’t successful, it’s O.K. to simply say to her, “Do you need help with your zipper?” instead of solving the problem for her. If she asks for help, show her how to do it and be patient if she insists on trying again herself. Neurologist and teacher Judy Willis recommends setting your kids up for success by letting them know when something will require time and perseverance. For example, when starting a puzzle, or learning to tie a shoe, tell them it won’t be completed all in one sitting. There might be a smaller goal for today — crossing the laces — with a longer-term goal in the future — to tie the shoes all by themselves.
Here are some examples of NOTICE-THINK-FEEL-DO questions parents may ask children about their gratitude experiences.
NOTICE: What have you been given or what do you already have in your life for which you are grateful? Are there gifts behind the material gifts for which you are grateful, like someone thinking about you or caring about you enough to give you the gift?
THINK: Why do you think you received this gift? Do you think you owe the giver something in return? Do you think you earned the gift because of something you did yourself? Do you think the gift was something the giver had to give you? If you answered no to these questions, then you may be more likely to be grateful.
FEEL: Does it make you feel happy to get this gift? What does that feel like inside? What about the gift makes you feel happy? These questions help the child connect their positive feeling to the gifts that they receive in their lives.
DO: Is there a way you want to show how you feel about this gift? Does the feeling you have about this gift make you want to share that feeling by giving something to someone else? Prompting children after experiences of gratitude in order to motivate acts of gratitude, whether they be acts of appreciation or paying it forward, may help children connect their experiences and actions in the world.
Use the following simple strategies to help your toddler listen better:
Read to her
Reading aloud to your toddler is a great way to improve her listening skills. Use silly voices, or emphasize certain words or phrases to get her attention. Try to get fresh reading material as often as you can. If your toddler hasn’t heard the story before, she will have to listen to find out what happens! You can also buy books that are specially written to teach children to listen.
Get down to her level
Bellowing from a great height, or even another room, rarely has the desired effect. Instead, squat down or pick up your child so that you can look her in the eye and grab her attention. She’ll be more inclined to listen if you sit down next to her before reminding her to eat up her porridge.
Similarly, perch on her bed at night when telling her you’re about to turn off the light.
It can be hard to find time for your whole family to sit down and talk to each other. Mealtimes are a perfect time to do this. It may not be possible to do this every night, but try to set one day a week, such as Sunday evening, for everyone to sit down and share a meal. If you don’t have a table, see if you can buy a fold-away version. This will give your toddler a chance to see her parents interacting and listening, and it will also give her an opportunity to chat and listen, too.
State your message clearly, simply and authoritatively. Your toddler will zone out if you bang on about something. Try not to say, “It’s cold outside and you’ve been poorly lately, so I want you to put on your jacket before we go to the store.” Instead try, “It’s time to put on your jacket.” She will understand what you’re saying more easily and be more inclined to listen.
And try not to phrase something as a question if your toddler doesn’t actually have a choice. “Let’s get into your car seat,” has much more impact than, “Do you want to climb into your car seat now, sweetie?”
Follow through fast
Make it clear that you mean what you say and don’t make threats, or promises, you won’t keep. If you tell your two-year-old, “You can have water with your dinner,” don’t waver five minutes later and give her juice. Making sure your partner shares your rules and that you both stick to them will help your toddler feel more secure.
Make your follow-through speedy, too. You wouldn’t shout “Don’t run across the road!” five times, so try not to repeat less urgent instructions. If you want your toddler to put her cup on the table, say, “Put your cup on the table.” If she doesn’t, guide her hand to place the cup on the table. That way, she knows what you want her to do.
Reinforce your message
It helps to back up what you say with other cues, especially if you’re trying to pull your child away from an absorbing activity. Say, “Time for bed!” and then give a visual cue (flicking the light switch on and off), a physical cue (laying your hand on her shoulder), or a demonstration (steering her towards her bed).
Give your toddler advance notice when a big change is about to happen, especially if she’s happily involved with toys or a friend. There’s no point in giving your toddler a five-minute warning, as she’s too young to understand the concept of time. Instead, when you’re getting ready to leave the house say, “When you have finished dressing your doll, put your coat on.”
Give realistic instructions
If you tell your two-year-old to put her toys away, she may look around the room and think, “No way!” Instead, give her specific and manageable tasks, such as “Let’s put the yellow blocks away.” Once she’s accomplished the first task, you can make it into a game by saying, “Good. Now let’s put the blue blocks away.”
Yelling orders may get results, but some children will get upset and no one will enjoy the process. Your toddler will respond better to confident good humour. For example, occasionally use a silly voice or a song to deliver your message. You could sing, “Now it’s time to brush your teeth” to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down, for example.
Stress the benefits of getting the job done quickly. Say, “Brush your teeth and then we’ll read your favourite book”, instead of “Brush your teeth or you’ll get fillings”, or “Brush your teeth NOW!” Praise her when she finishes brushing and before you do a quick checking brush, with “Good listening!”
The good humor, affection and trust you show your toddler will make her want to listen to you. She’ll know that you love her and think she’s special. This is important when you need to be firm, too. Straightforward, authoritative instructions are more powerful when they’re accompanied by a hug or a smile. Then your toddler learns that paying attention is worthwhile.
Set a good example
Your toddler will be a better listener if she sees that you are a good listener, too. Try to listen to her as respectfully as you would to any adult. Look at her when she talks to you, respond politely and let her finish without interrupting. It may be difficult when you’re cooking dinner and she’s especially chatty, but try not to turn your back on her while she’s talking.
As with so many behaviors, the old saying “Do as I say, not as I do”, has no value when teaching your toddler to listen. It’s what you do that counts.
Teaching respect is just one way that you can help to build your child’s good character. A little extra time spent teaching and modeling “how” and “why” to be respectful can help in providing a firm foundation that includes the character pillar of respect.
Toddlers often act on impulse: grabbing, hitting, or screaming. Additionally, language skills are still emerging in young children, and they need adult assistance to identify their feelings. Teaching respect to preschoolers can be accomplished through everyday interactions with adults who model respectful behavior.
Display good manners in your home by using “thank you” and “please” appropriately.
Treat all family members with respect.
Help your child learn respect by giving him the words you’d like to hear. If your child grabs a toy you can tell him; “When you want something that your brother has, I expect you to ask him if he is finished playing with it.” If your child demands a snack, you can instruct her; “When you are hungry, I’d like to hear, ‘Please mom, when you have time, could you fix a snack for me?”
Teach your children about differences. You can discuss how your family members are different and unique from each other by pointing out eye color, hair color, height, and skin tone. Talk about how each of you is “special” in your own way.
If your child is starting preschool, you may be approaching this major milestone with conflicting emotions. You’re probably excited about all the fun (you hope) your child will have and the new friends he’ll make. At the same time, you may feel a little sad that your baby is venturing out into the big world without you. These emotions are normal. Your child is also bound to have a host of feelings about this transition, feeling proud to be a big kid but at the same time worried about being separated from you and starting something unfamiliar.
Having Fun With Preschool Prep
There’s a lot you can do in the week before to get ready for the big day. But try to keep your efforts low-key. If you make too big a deal out of this milestone, your child may end up being more worried than excited. Here are some ideas to keep the focus on fun.
Use pretend play to explore the idea of preschool.
Take turns being the parent, child, and teacher. Act out common daily routines, such as saying good-bye to mommy and/or daddy, taking off your coat, singing songs, reading stories, having Circle Time, playing outside, and taking naps. Reassure your child that preschool is a good place where she will have fun and learn. Answer her questions patiently. This helps children feel more in control which reduces their anxiety.
Read books about preschool.
There are many books about going to preschool. Choose to share some with your child before school starts. Talk about the story and how the characters are feeling. Ask how your child is feeling.
Make a game out of practicing self-help skills.
These skills include unzipping a lunch bag, hanging his coat on a hook, putting on her backpack, fastening his shoes. For example, you might want to have a “race” with your child to see how quickly she can put on her shoes. When you play school together, you can give your child the chance to practice taking off her coat, zipping her lunch bag closed, and sitting “criss-cross applesauce.” If your child will be bringing lunch, pack it up one day before school starts and have a picnic together. This will give her the chance to practice unzipping her lunch box and unwrapping her sandwich—important skills for the first day!
Play at your new preschool.
Visit your child’s preschool together and tour the school with your child. Play on the school playground before your child starts the program. Visiting increases your child’s comfort with and confidence in this new setting.
Worries and Watching
Your child may also have some questions or concerns about starting preschool, either before or after he starts in the fall. Help him get ready with these two key strategies:
Listen to your child’s worries.
Although it’s tempting to quickly reassure your child and move on, it’s important to let your child know that his worries have been heard. No matter what they are, big or small, children’s worries about preschool can significantly influence their experience there. Will you remember to pick him up in the afternoon? Will his teacher be nice?
Let your child know it’s normal to feel happy, sad, excited, scared, or worried. Explain that starting something new can feel scary and that lots of people feel that way. It can be helpful to share a time when you started something new and how you felt. When you allow your child to share her worries, you can help her think through how to deal with them. For example, if she is worried about missing you, the two of you can make a book of family photos to keep in her cubby and look at when she is lonely.
Notice nonverbal messages.
As much as youngsters may talk, most are not yet able to fully explain how they are feeling or what they are worried about. Your child may “act out” his worry by clinging, becoming withdrawn, or by being more aggressive. Another common reaction as children take a big move forward is to actually move backward in other areas. For example, if your child is fully potty trained, he may start have toileting accidents. He may ask that you feed or dress him even though he can do these things by himself.
It is natural to be frustrated by this regressed behavior, and you may be concerned that if you do these things for him, he won’t go back to doing them himself. In fact, letting him play this out often leads to children returning to their “big kid” selves sooner. Remember that your child is facing—and managing—a big change in his life. He may need more support, nurturing, and patience from you while he makes this transition.
The Preschool Countdown: What to Do and When
The last week before starting preschool, you may begin the countdown to the first day. Here are some things to keep in mind:
During the Weeks Before Preschool Starts:
Purchase a lunchbox together with your child. If possible, let your child choose it himself. This gives him a sense of control and emphasizes the fact that he is a “big kid” starting preschool.
Label all items—backpack, jacket, shoes, blanket, teddy bear, etc.—with your child’s name in permanent ink.
Contact the preschool’s health professional if your child has medication that he or she takes on a daily basis. There will be special rules and forms to fill out for your child to receive medication at school.
Talk about how your child will get to school and how she will come home. Explain to your child about the morning and afternoon routine so that she understands that she will be safe, okay, and cared for.
Start using your child’s “school bedtime.” Children often go to bed later as the summer months, and longer days, kick in. Help your child get into a preschool schedule by keeping to his school bedtime, beginning a week before school starts.
The Night Before Preschool:
Answer any last-minute questions from your child.
Let your child choose (weather- and school-appropriate) clothes for her first day.
Make sure that your child goes to bed on time.
Pick a bedtime that gives your child a good night’s rest before the first day. Keep the bedtime routine soothing and relaxing. Don’t focus too much (or at all!) on the first day of school unless he wants to.
The First Day:
Wake up early enough so that you and your child don’t have to rush to get to preschool.
Make breakfast for your child and, if possible, sit down to eat together—or at least talk with her as she eats and you get ready.
Review the day’s routine (what preschool will be like, how your child will get to school/come home).
Pack your child’s lunchbox together. If your child is bringing lunch, select foods that you know are his favorites. Having some familiarity on his first day is helpful as he adjusts to so many changes.
Let your child choose a special stuffed animal or blanket to bring to school with her. These “loveys” can help children make the transition from home to school. You may want to send your child with a family photo as well. These familiar objects can help if she feels lonely during the day.
Saying a Good Good-Bye
These strategies can ease the jitters of separating on your child’s first day at preschool.
Plan to stay a little while.
Staying for 5-15 minutes on that first morning can help ease the transition. Together, the two of you can explore the classroom, meet some other children, play with a few toys. When you see that your child is comfortable, it is time to leave. If he is having a harder time getting engaged, you may want to ask your child’s teacher to stay with your child as you say good-bye so that when you leave, he can turn to another caring adult for support.
Keep your tone positive and upbeat.
Children pick up on the reactions of the trusted adults in their lives. So try not to look worried or sad, and don’t linger too long. Say a quick, upbeat good-bye and reassure your child that all will be well.
Think about creating a special good-bye routine.
For example, you can give your child a kiss on the palm to “hold” all day long. Or, the two of you can sing a special song together before you leave. Good-bye routines are comforting to children and help them understand and prepare for what will happen next.
Resist the Rescue.
Try not to run back in the classroom if you hear your child crying, as upsetting as this can be. This is a big change and your child may, quite understandably, feel sad and a little scared. But if you run back in, it sends the message that he is only okay if you are there and it is likely to prolong your child’s distress and make it harder for him to adapt. Rest assured, teachers have many years of experience with helping families make the shift to preschool. Instead, you can wait outside the classroom for a few minutes to ensure that all is well, or call the school later in the morning to check in.
It’s that time of year… spring is almost here!
In preparation for our Welcome Spring! Celebration, please send as many eggshells as you can collect at home so we can begin painting and stuffing them with confetti. Also, start thinking of a vehicle your child can ride for the Easter Parade. It can be a trike, bike, scooter or push car uniquely decorated. Here are a few examples:
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(español, ver abajo)
Dear Toddler Tree Parents,
With the intention of offering the kids an opportunity to explore food at the grocery store, we have programmed a visit to HEB San Pedro for the Big Bears and Terrific Tigers groups on Wednesday, November 7 with Ms. Caya, Ms. Karen, Ms. Victoria and Ms. Marifer.
We will meet at the underground parking lot, near the electric escalators at 9:00am to start our tour at 9:15am. Mothers are asked to stay with their child during the visit which we expect will last approximately 30 minutes. We are asking that you please take your child to Toddler Tree after HEB and pick him/her up at the usual dismissal time. If your child will not be joining us for the visit, please drop him/her off at kinder after 10:00am on that day.
The Toddler Tree teaching staff
Estimados Padres de Familia:
Con el propósito de que los niños tengan la experiencia tangible de explorar comida, que será parte del tema de este mes, hemos programado una visita a HEB Sand Pedro para los grupos de Terrific Tigers y Big Bears el miércoles 7 de noviembre con Ms. Caya, Ms. Karen, Ms. Victoria, y Miss Marifer.
Nos reuniremos con las maestras a las 9:00am en el estacionamiento subterráneo, a un lado de las escaleras eléctricas para empezar el tour a las 9:15am. Los niños deberán ser acompañados por su mamá durante el recorrido para el cual estimamos un tiempo de 30 minutos aproximadamente y les pedimos entregar a sus hijos en Toddler Tree para terminar su mañana a la hora de costumbre. Para los niños que no vayan a asistir a la visita, la entrada será a las 10:00am en el kínder ese día.
El personal docente de Toddler Tree