Teddy Bear Day Care – Ypsilanti

Teddy Bear Day Care and Learning Center

Clarifying Expectations

by Leslie - March 27th, 2013.
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There are eight items that I’m going to discuss in regard to effective discipline. On today’s agenda is “clarifying expectations”.



Children are very literal beings. As adults in their lives, we too easily forget this fact. One day a student had removed his socks and shoes during circle time. His teacher said to him, “You need to step away from circle until you have your socks and shoes on.” One of the assistant teachers separated him from the group, reiterated what the teacher had said, and she rejoined the circle. A few minutes later the student happily joined his class with his socks and shoes on…his hands. This young man did exactly what his teachers asked of them. The moral of the story: be ridiculously specific.


We have to make sure our children understand what we want. When we make assumptions, we are not being fair to them. In addition to being clear, we also have to be positive. Listen to yourself over the next few days. How many times do you tell your child not to do something (“Don’t hit your brother”, “Don’t run inside”, “Stop playing with your food”).














What was the first thing that popped into your head?


I bet it was pink elephants. The same thing happens when we tell a child not to do something; all he hears is “Hit your brother”, “Run inside”, “Play with your food”. Rather than telling your child what you want him not to do, we need tell him what we want him to do—and be positive about it. Otherwise we are are leaving him to figure it out on his own, and that is just not fair.


This next part is a bit easier to remember with younger children, but just as important with older children, as well. As adults, when we enter into a new environment we subconsciously read the situation, and adapt our behaviors. For example, you probably have a slightly different personality at work than you do while hanging out with friends. Well, we learned this somewhere in our childhood, and sometimes we forget that we need to teach children about different cultural norms and behavioral expectations. When we put our children in new or unfamiliar situations (weddings, funerals, field trips, etc.), we need to check ourselves. What are we expecting out of the child? What is realistic to expect out of them? And then we need to clearly explain our expectations to them


Rules & expectations

Rules and expectations are different. Expectations evolve, where as rules are the same. For example, you probably don’t expect your fifteen month old to brush her teeth; but hopefully you expect your fifteen year old to brush her own teeth! But you probably ask your child, no matter what her age, to be respectful of herself and her surroundings. “Be respectful,” is the rule that you are teaching her, while your expectation of what that looks like will change as she matures.


Please download this document.


Don’t worry about the right column for now. I’d like to see your family sit down and complete the “Expectations” column. As the document states, please be positive in your expectations. This can be a great tool to help all of the adults in your child’s life remain consistent. Which leads very neatly to tomorrow’s topic…consistency!

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