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Expecting "the Goods" from Toddlers and Preschoolers
By Dr. Linda Pearson

"Show me the goods and you'll get your goodies." That, in a nutshell, captures the practice of a good boss who sets limits, establishes rules, lays out responsibilities, and rewards employees for their good performance. In the view of Dr. Linda Pearson, the same basic principle applies to parents who want to teach and motivate good behaviors in their children. What are "the goods" that apply to toddlers and preschoolers? In her new book, THE DISCIPLINE MIRACLE, she describes specific behavioral expectations parents should hold their child to, depending on his developmental age and capabilities:

-RESPECT. Does your child show age appropriate evidence of respect for you and other adults in his life? Did three-year-old Ashley look in Grandma's eyes and thank her for the cookie, even if you had to remind her gently? Did four-year-old Ryan listen carefully as you talked with him about his behavior instead of rolling his eyes and looking off into the distance?

-ABILITY. Does your child show age appropriate ability to handle circumstances and responsibilities? Did four-year-old Jordan show the ability to put his emotions into words by telling you that he was feeling mad, sad, or bad? When two-year-old Chelsea removed everything from her bedroom drawer, did she show patience and work hard to put everything back after her "time out?"

-GOOD JUDGMENT. Does your child show you an age appropriate ability to make good choices? Does four-year-old Zach show proper judgment in obeying the safety rules you've explained to him? Did three-year-old Morgan accept your explanation of why she couldn't wear her bathing suit to church instead of having a tantrum before complying?

-SELF-CONTROL. Was five-year-old Justin able to calm down and talk about his emotions after screaming at you when you insisted he get ready for school? Did two-year-old Taylor stop chasing and scaring the dog and instead accept your guidance in petting his fur gently?

If your child is showing you these "goods," he is in line to get "goodies." For toddlers and preschoolers, "goodies" might include a small "sweet treat," the addition of a TV program, or the extra attention of having you play a board game with him. The "goodies" you grant to your child are linked to the degree to which your child has shown you "the goods" for the past minute, hour, or day, depending on ability and age. Even toddlers are able to learn how their behaviors over the past hour link to the "goodies" they receive.

Adapted from THE DISCIPLINE MIRACLE: The Clinically Proven System for Raising Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Kids by Dr. Linda Pearson (AMACOM Books; November 2005; $14.95 Paperback Original; ISBN: 0-8144-7297-4).

The information presented on this site is intended solely as a general educational aid, and is neither medical nor healthcare advice for any individual problem, nor a substitute for medical or other professional advice and services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your unique circumstances. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical condition and before starting any new treatment.

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