Tracy Fisher, a state Pre-K teacher at Chicago Public Schools’ Peirce School of International Studies, is a 2007 Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award winner.
Her tips for parents who want to encourage good behavior in their preschoolers:
"As the mother of a 4- and a 2-year-old and as a teacher, I can speak from experience how important a routine is. Keeping a consistent schedule can reduce ‘melt downs.’ With a set routine, they learn what to expect and that helps them feel more secure.
"Also, it is really important to keep things in perspective. If your child insists on wearing the blue pants four days in a row (like my son), let him. I did, and he began to choose other pants once I let it go. Allowing children to make choices helps them build self-esteem. So long as the choice doesn’t place your child in danger, it’s a good idea to let the child make the choice.
"My final tip is to follow through on any consequences you make for misbehavior. Children need boundaries, and if we don’t set them, they will never learn right from wrong. They may cry and scream, but they will love and respect you more if they know you mean what you say."
A teacher’s thought
"I think the future will be bright for our young children if we teach them to be respectful of one another and allow them to express their feelings appropriately. Families need to be models for using manners and listening to others. I feel we need to go back to the time when everyone didn’t always win. Being good at something should be good enough, not everyone can be the best. We are in a time of instant gratification and it is hard for children and adults to wait and understand that we can’t have everything. By starting school at an early age our children are learning to cooperate with all different types of people and understand that what they bring to the world is important. As long as our educators and parents continue to model respect, positive attitudes and generosity, our children will grow to be self-assured, successful and empathetic adults."