Even young kids can learn the basics of sharing.

Five Early Childhood Rules

by Kay Ireland

Despite their cute and cuddly appearance, kids can definitely be wolves in sheep's clothing. Even though you completely adore your little one, it doesn't mean he's perfect. Children need rules as a way to keep them safe, but also as a way to learn expectations and manners. Introduce five basic rules in early childhood to make sure your little lamb stays sweet and safe -- rules that will serve her well into big kid-dom and beyond.

1. Share

As a parent, you'll probably hear yourself say the word "Share" ad nauseam for at least the first five years of your child's life. Of course, it's not just about preventing playground squabbles: learning to share is a basic skill that teaches your child how to treat others and about his own place in the world. Knowing that he's not king of the castle teaches him to respect others and to expect the same from his friends and family.

2. Listen Up

Listening is a basic skill that makes a huge difference in how your child reacts to the world around him. It's also one of the rules that can help keep him the safest, since listening to parents, teachers and other caring adults can help keep him out of harm's way. Listening skills -- which means stopping, hearing what a person is saying and then reacting appropriately -- should be one of the non-negotiable rules of childhood that can make your little one an effective communicator one day.

3. Speak Nicely

If you've ever been the victim of a name-calling child, you know that being called a "poopy head" by a 3-year-old is pretty laughable. Still, though it makes for funny mom conversation later, laughing at cruel words shouldn't be habit in your home, since it teaches your little one that it's acceptable. Instead, become a stickler for nice words and basic manners, while walking a hard line with insults and mean words.

4. Hands Off

Young kids are physical creatures. If they don't like something, hitting, kicking and even biting can ensue -- er, sorry, Grandma. Of course, as an adult, you know that physical violence is never the answer, so you should institute a hands-off rule to show your child to solve problems with words and communication rather than his teeth.

5. Pitch In

As a mom, you probably feel like a maid, short order cook, chauffeur and family punching bag, all while fulfilling your parenting duties. But there's no reason why even young children shouldn't know how to pitch in and help out when it comes to cleaning up toys, setting the table and other easy-peasy tasks that are appropriate for little hands. It helps teach a valuable work ethic that could carry your child into adulthood and save some of your sanity at the same time.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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