In Praise of Persistence
I’m willing to bet that every article or book you have read on the topic of behavior management has stressed the importance of consistency. And there is no doubt that a little one needs to know precisely what the rules and limits are, and he needs to know that those rules and limits will be enforced by all the adults in his life.
However, what is often overlooked in these discussions of discipline is the importance of being persistent as well as consistent. Particularly as they enter the preschool period, children often become quite clever and learn that if they initially acquiesce to an admonition, the parents will cease paying attention and they can then go back to doing whatever they want.
So let’s say your little one decides to play Tarzan and starts swinging on the living room drapes. You snap, “Hey! Cut that out!” He immediately obeys your order, hanging his head as he walks away. You then go off to check your email, start dinner, or whatever. You return later to find that he had resumed the prohibited activity a few minutes later and the drapes are now ruined.
Consequently, always keep in mind that behavior management during the early years is not only difficult but time-consuming as well. In addition to immediate action there is the need for sustained attention and substantial follow-through as well. Consistency will get you going in the right direction, but persistency will ensure you reach your goal.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.