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1

Be clear and consistent

Children do well when they have clearly set expectations and structure within their setting. It is therefore vital that the dos and don’ts of their environment are well-defined and easy to understand. Having a consistent routine will help children to know what is expected of them throughout the day and the familiarity of a routine will also help them to feel safe and secure. Consistency is key. If you set a rule and consequence, make sure that you follow through with it every single time. Likewise, if you say you are going to do something positive later, make sure you follow up with that promise too. If children know that we honour our word, they are more likely to take what we say seriously.

2

Make expectations age appropriate

It is also crucial that we set age-appropriate expectations that take into consideration a child’s developmental capabilities. For example, a 2-year-old will struggle to sit still for long periods of time, so it would be unfair to have a rule that they need to sit on the carpet for 30 minutes during storytime. It is important that whatever rules and expectations we have, that we are setting children up for success and not pushing them beyond what they are developmentally programmed to be able to do.

3

Remember children are little people

It is important to remember that children are little people with their own minds. Sometimes our expectations can be quite high and if the shoe was on the other foot, we’d struggle ourselves. For example, how would we feel if we were engrossed in a project and someone came along, took it from us without warning and demanded that we went to lunch? We’d be furious and totally frustrated! The same applies to children. Quite often we will move them from task to task with no warning and then wonder why they are having a meltdown. 

It’s important to treat children as we would like to be treated. A simple fix to that scenario would be tell them that lunch will be in 10 minutes and to allow them time to wrap up what they are doing. I always put myself in my children’s shoes and ask how I would react in the same situation. If they answer is ‘badly’, I amend my approach. 

4

Give it time

Routines and boundaries take time to embed. Sometimes you have to work at it for a while and give children time to adjust. Again, consistency and repetition are key. Children may need a few reminders and some redirection, but in time they will get there. Just gently guide them in the right direction, follow through with everything you say, have strong boundaries and the rest will eventually fall into place.

5

Lead with love

We don’t need to be critical with our approach. No person is going to be their best self if they feel like they are failing. It is therefore important that we implement rules and expectations from a place of love. Children will naturally fight against change. However, ultimately, boundaries and structure make them feel safer. If we can assert ourselves but maintain the message that we care deeply whilst doing this, children will be more likely to cooperate. It may take time to stick, but it is important that we nurture our child-adult bond in the process. 

About the author:

Stacey Kelly, the creative mind behind Early Years Story Box, wears the dual hats of writer and illustrator. Her storybooks are carefully crafted to teach various life lessons whilst guiding children towards their subsequent developmental stages. Stacey's overarching goal is to extend her reach and offer support to a multitude of children through the engaging medium of storytelling.

About the author:

Stacey Kelly, the creative mind behind Early Years Story Box, wears the dual hats of writer and illustrator. Her storybooks are carefully crafted to teach various life lessons whilst guiding children towards their subsequent developmental stages. Stacey's overarching goal is to extend her reach and offer support to a multitude of children through the engaging medium of storytelling.

About the author:

Stacey Kelly, the creative mind behind Early Years Story Box, wears the dual hats of writer and illustrator. Her storybooks are carefully crafted to teach various life lessons whilst guiding children towards their subsequent developmental stages. Stacey's overarching goal is to extend her reach and offer support to a multitude of children through the engaging medium of storytelling.

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