Often when working within the profession of Early Childhood Education, I witness many instances of young children (between the ages of 4-5yrs) holding their hand up to another child’s face and literally shouting, STOP, I DONT LIKE IT. Most reactions that I have seen from the child on the receiving end of this call-to-action statement include bewilderment, confusion and often the child will keep doing the particular behavior that was annoying his or her friend in the first place. Can you guess why this type of response is so frequently observed in many Early Childhood services? Yes, we want to provide young children with the tools to become socially responsible for identifying, owning and positively dealing with their emotions, likes and dislikes, and lets face it, STOP, I DONT LIKE IT certainly gains another’s attention but does it give the child on the receiving end any indication of what it is they need to stop? Furthermore, did anyone notice the omission of a name? Who are they addressing?
After witnessing many examples of this shouted and incomplete instruction, I now encourage the preschoolers I work with to articulate the behavior they would like to cease. An example of this happened in the sandpit today.
Johnny was getting bumped by neighboring Jackie as he dug in the sandpit. Johnny took it for a little while and then suddenly could not handle the constant impending upon his space. With a shout Johnny yelled, STOP I DONT LIKE IT. Jackie did not take any notice of Johnny and continued what she was doing. Johnny continued to tell Jackie that he didn’t like it and Jackie continued to ignore Johnny. Johnny became increasingly frustrated and the volume of his voice increased. Upon seeing this, I simply encouraged Johnny to say Jackie’s name and then tell her exactly what he would like her to stop doing.
Johnny: Jackie, I don’t like you bumping me
Do you know what Jackie did? She stopped.
Believe in children’s abilities to help themselves by giving them the tools to articulate their feelings, needs and wants in positive and effective ways.