Trouble at Preschool

Trouble at Preschool

How do you react when your child tells you they did something that they know you won’t like and just looks at you?

If you brace yourself for a show-down, or start correcting or lecturing, that’s a reaction to a judgment. The judgment might be something like “rebellious” or maybe even stubborn,” if you know your child knew you wouldn’t like what they did, but did it anyway.

How can you stop judging and get on your child’s side instead?

One of our readers, Krystalle of Austin, TX, used the powerful tool of WAITING to give herself the chance to check in with herself and realize that she needed to find out more:

“…I have a 3.5 year old son who is exploring different behaviors, especially since starting school this year. He is a naturally jovial, gregarious child, whose primary need seems to be power, so he really likes to have things go his way.


He came home yesterday and told me about a situation where he pulled a toy away from a classmate, the classmate grabbed his shirt, and he hit the classmate.


Hmmm…I did not tell him NOT to hit his friends, because I had a feeling something more was happening here, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. I knew he was exploring something. I could tell he was feeling things out to see how I would react to his story…


I ended up asking how he felt when he hit the friend and how he thought the friend felt. He later said, ‘I wanted to be like him (the friend who tends to hit or yell when he feels his personal space boundaries are being crossed).’ 


So I just asked him if he felt happier when he was acting like his classmate, or as himself. He said he liked being himself best. I felt so relieved when he said that. Whew!”

After waiting, when Krystalle wasn’t sure what to do, she decided to find out how HER SON felt about the situation first. Her intention to remain judgment-free and bring out her son’s greatness put her on his side as his coach. As a result, he was able to walk away feeling good about himself and able to change his behavior on his own.

If you find that your child resists questions, or if they answer but you think they may be just saying what you want to hear, you can use SAY WHAT YOU SEE® statements instead. In many ways they are easier because they help you step into your child’s perspective more quickly.

In this case, saying what your child is doing, saying, feeling, or thinking could sound like this:

“You grabbed the toy, he grabbed your shirt, and you hit him. (If your child looks troubled, you can add: You didn’t like that.)”


“Sounds like you wanted that toy and thought acting tough like your friend might help you get it.”


“You wanted to be like him. There are things you like about him and probably things you like about you better.”

Krystalle, thank you for sharing your story! If you’d like to share yours with our readers and/or receive coaching on the blog, feel free to Contact Us.

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