My four-year-old enjoys connect-the-dot puzzles. She loves revealing the hidden shape after connecting each letter or number in sequential order.
In life, helping children “connect the dots” or link the cause and effect between actions and the results of those actions enables children to see the relationship between their choices and the consequences of their behavior.
As a part of our Character and Empathy™ curriculum, Stepping Stone School teachers will teach children about what it means to take Ownership for their actions and behaviors. Children will participate in a variety of developmentally appropriate discussions and learning activities as they learn about this important character trait.
Here are some ideas to help develop this character trait at home:
Help your child discover the link between what he does and what happens by “connecting the dots.” “You caught the ball because you have been practicing!” or “You jumped in the puddle, now your shoes are wet.” Identifying the cause and effect of various actions will help your child develop a better understanding of the results of certain behaviors.
When your child makes a mistake, remain calm. Let her know everyone makes mistakes, but we always learn from the situation. Once settled, discuss what she can do differently if she ever finds herself in a similar state. Help her think and consider how to make the current situation better. This practice not only builds personal responsibility, but also develops resilience in children.
Help your child understand and accept the rules and consequences for his behavior by remaining consistent with your expectations. For example, before getting into the car, remind your child of the expected voice level for a trip in the car verses at a playground or the library. Reminders specific to a given place enable both you and your child to arrive to your location with the same expectations.
Read children’s books together in which the character must make decisions about her actions. Pause to ask your child what she should do if she finds herself in a similar situation before reading how the character resolves the matter. This practice helps to build empathy as she examines how to help another person solve a problem. In addition, it provides her with an opportunity to develop a plan of action with an appropriate response for herself.
Create role-play scenarios with toys replaying a situation from earlier in the day in which your child made a poor choice. Often seeing the scene unfold from an outsider’s perspective enables a child to better gauge the consequences for his behavior so he can respond appropriately in the future. This technique is often used to provide opportunities for reflection and ideas for social problem-solving in the future.
Over the course of this month, your child will learn to evaluate his choices, beginning to take ownership of his words and actions.