Toddlers and preschoolers are just learning to make distinctions between right and wrong. Youngsters enjoy focusing on playtime and are unlikely to sit still long enough to listen to a lecture about good and bad choices. Even if you manage to wrangle the constantly moving youngsters into chairs, they rarely digest or remember the information, since they become distracted so quickly at this age. Make a homemade game about the concepts of right and wrong behavior to retain their attention. This gives your child the confidence and knowledge to determine the difference in appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
Cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers that show good and bad choices, using regular scissors or scrap booking scissors that create decorative edges on the paper. For instance, cut out a picture of a child gently petting a dog and then another one that shows a person pulling the animal’s tail. Other types of pictures that depict right and wrong choices include a child cuddling with his mother in a rocking chair while gazing at a fireplace and a little tyke playing with matches. You could also print pictures of right and wrong choices from your computer.
Glue the pictures to index cards or squares you cut from colorful card stock or construction paper.
Place all the cards face down in a shoebox or other container. Ask the child to take out one card and then say “good” or “bad” once he looks at the picture. Place the “good” choices cards on the left side of the table and the “bad” choices cards on the right.
Praise the child for his efforts even if he states the wrong answer. If the answer is wrong, briefly explain why and then ask him to choose another card to prevent frustration.
Remove the card yourself and hold it up if you have more than one small child or if he has friends over. The first one who shouts out the correct answer gets to keep the card in his pile. At the end of the game, the kiddo with the most cards wins.
Ask your child to guess what happens next in the picture. For instance, if a youngster pulls the cat’s tail, the animal may scratch or even try to bite the child. Another scenario is that the cat may run every time the child enters the same room. If the picture is of the child gently rubbing the cat, the likely result is that the cat will be a lifelong friend and relish the child’s attention. This helps the youngster learn cause and effect and the consequences of his actions.
Instruct your child to be on the lookout for “good or bad choices” pictures. When you are looking through magazines or viewing pictures on the computer together, ask him to alert you when he spots new pictures for the game. New material keeps the game exciting and more challenging since he eventually learns the correct answers.