Written by Doctor G

Teaching Preschoolers Kindness

Soon to be 3 yr old twins.  One daughter (slightly larger and stronger) is often the bully/aggressor — using force to get what she wants (pushing, hitting, occasional biting, grabbing things away from the other daughter), in lieu of verbal communication.  Still difficult for each to tell their side of the story.  Unless we’ve observed the altercation, we encounter #2 in tears and worry that comforting her breeds resentment in #1 and causes her to act out further.  Worse yet, we are starting to see it go both ways (and, with #1, to extend to other kids).  How can we apply your advice re: older/more communicative siblings to 3 yr olds?

Barrie, in IL

Your three year olds are learning every day. This a great “learning task” for your twins this summer. What is “this” you ask? Read on…

Barrie, there are lots of ways to address this issue but I’m going to skip over the laundry list and focus on a particular approach that is developmentally appropriate for most three year old girls. If this doesn’t work in your family just let me know and we’ll talk about it a different way!

Create a Kindness Plan

  • Sit down with your girls and ask what “Kindness” means. They will need some help defining it, for sure. Guide them to the behavior you want.
  • Make a list of one or two word definitions that they understand.
  • Make a poster with a list (down the middle) of the words or phrases.
  • Next to each word or phrase try to put a picture of that idea in action. Your kids can pose for the pictures!
  • To the left of the list write the word “Yes!” at the top and make a list of good consequences when you see these kind behaviors.
  • On the right put the word “No” and make a list of consequences when these kind behaviors are not in action.

Like this:

As you know really well, kids this age are watching carefully to make sure that everything is “fair.” This means you can’t have different rules for each of your twins. The advantages of the Kindness Plan are:

1. The rules are the same for all kids (yours, friends in your home, cousins, etc).

2. Your girls will (help) define the rules and the consequences.

3. If you don’t agree to the plan each day you need to play by yourself, so there are frequent reminders.

You and your girls can be as creative as you like with the plan, but once you’ve got it, laminate it and stick with it for a week. Let us know what you think!


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2 thoughts on “Teaching Preschoolers Kindness”

  1. Thanks, Dr. G — this is brilliant! Love the fact that they assist with constructing the plan and, therefore, have a vested interest in seeing that it’s implemented and ensuring compliance. We will give it a try and let you know how it goes!

    1. I don’t know that it will ensure compliance Barrie, but it has a good chance of getting some buy-in. And neither one will be shocked when there is a consequence for not being kind! Please do let us know how it goes…

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