A common question from parents is how to teach their child to stand up for themselves, for example, if your child is pushed or someone always takes their toy.
Here I like to pass on the advice from my children’s first preschool teacher.
1. Use body language
Show them how they can put their hands on their hips. Using strong body language is particularly useful for children who are smaller than their peers.
2. Use words
Even if your child is pre-verbal, you can model the words they can use. In our family we use, “Stop I don’t like that” or “ik vind dat niet leuk”. If it involves a toy, I taught my children to say, “it will be available soon”.
You can also recognise and validate your child’s feelings. You can say, “you didn’t like that when he pushed you” or “it can be upsetting to be pushed huh?” or “I bet you are cross that they took that toy”.
By using this response regularly, your child will learn that they can stand up for themselves and use their words to solve problems.
If your child is the one that pushed, took the toy etc
See the situation through your child’s eyes. They are upset because they were worried someone was going to take what they were using, or they wanted to play with another child and his way of telling him was to push them.
1. Begin by empathising with them, for example, “you really wanted that toy”
2. Remind them to use their words, for example, “use your words. Ask, “can I have a turn please?”” or “did you want to say hello?” or “my turn. it will be available soon”
3. If they continue to push etc, then remove them from the situation and tell them they can return when they are ready to be gentle with the other children.