Don’t Make Your Kid Be An Example

“You’re older, you need to set an example for the younger kids.” At a preschool I was observing recently, this was the reason given to a child so he would comply with a teacher’s request. This idea of being an example was repeated a number of different times to several older children in a class consisting of three to five year olds. I’ve also heard this from parents on the playground in an attempt to get an older sibling to “behave.”

It may sound like a perfectly valid reason — at least to the teacher or parent. After all, younger kids look up to older children and often try to copy or mimic their behavior. Keep the older ones “in line” and the rest will follow, right? But what message are we really sending when we use this approach in order to gain a child’s compliance? Continue reading