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3 Little Words That Spark Respect In Toddlers+



I have a feeling that you're good at encouraging kids, but sometimes feel frustrated when they don't seem to appreciate it. After 43+ years of working with kids and families as well as having my own, I can tell you that, this one simple phrase can do wonders to increase respect. Both ways.


What is it? Remember, this little phrase is my biggest secret ever for gaining respect from, families and the groups of children I've worked with for the past 43+ years. So don't take it lightly or think I'm being simplistic. I got the idea from Dr. Becky Bailey in a packed NAEYC conference hall back in the '90s.

The 3 little words that do so much are...


"That was helpful!"

That's because this phrase makes it perfectly clear exactly what I expect to make me happy and it points that out in front of everyone there. Try making a huge effort to notice them when they are helpful and say it out loud. Everyone wants to be acknowledged. It's also nice when you provide a clear description of what you actually thought was helpful so they'll have no trouble knowing what to do to put a smile on your face. Here are some examples that work.

Wow, Missy, you found my pen. That was helpful! That was helpful, Howie! You put the playdough away. That makes it stay soft and fun to play with next time and easier for me, tool Good planning, buddy! You were quiet and let me finish talking with Stuart, Rajesh. That was helpful!

Thanks, Penny! When you read with Bernie, she liked it and I was able to take a quick shower. That was really helpful to me! That was helpful, Sheldon! You cleaned up the legos as soon as I asked you to and you put your shoes on super fast! Now we can get out of the door quickly and have more time at the park! So remember to look for things that please or help you and play them up to your best ability, especially if you want those people to respect you. This is extremely helpful when you're talking to people who are active or extremely active. And it's contagious so get ready to hear more compliments in general when you use this method.


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Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.


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