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DOUBLE TAB TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET The Six Life Skills neurological connections in our brains that lead to long-term memory. That’s why we see professional athletes, dancers, and gymnasts practicing routines over and over again. It is the constant repetition that makes their movements almost automatic. So often we teach the child a skill and then immediately throw him back into the problem situation and expect him to perform. Maybe he is splashing others at the water table where we have used a kind but firm technique to teach that splashing others is out of bounds at school. The child seems to have clearly understood our guidance and has agreed to keep the others dry from now on. A minute later, there he is again splashing his buddy. What is happening? Here is an example from an adult’s life experience: Imagine for a moment that your best friend is a recovering alcoholic, celebrating her third week sober. You have gone with her to a holiday party where alcohol is being served. Would you leave your best friend alone at the beckoning champagne table for half an hour while you make a phone call? When our friends or relatives are struggling to break an addiction or a sweet tooth, we stay sensitive to their vulnerability as they work to establish new habits. We support them in situations when tempta- tion hovers. We surely don’t intentionally put temptation in their path. We need to extend the same care and courtesy to the children in our care. When a child is struggling to learn not to push in line, have her be your partner so you can support her early attempts. If a child is learning to share toys, stay close by him in the block area and at the water table. When a child is practic- ing the new skill of conflict resolution, gently reinforce the process rather than sending the child back alone with the direction to “use your words.” Don’t expect more from a young child than you would expect from yourself. “But won’t punishing children help them pay attention? Won’t knowing there’s a consequence for misbehavior motivate them to remember the behav- ior we have spent so much energy to teach them?” The punishment debate is a sticky issue for many adults. In adult society, there are consequences for misbehavior. If adults speed, they get speeding tickets. Shouldn’t children learn early on that bad behavior gets punished? On the surface, it seems to make a lot of sense to punish children in order to prepare them for the adult world. Shift your thinking for a moment to literacy. What are some of the consequences in the adult world for being functionally illiterate? Less income? Fewer choices about work opportunities? Lower standards of living? If functionally illiterate adults suffer those consequences, wouldn’t it make sense to give negative conse- quences to a child who never pays attention at book time? Should we give that child the old broken desk in the drafty dark corner of the classroom? Should we give the child half portions at lunch and explain, “Here you go. Illiterate people don’t earn enough money for a lot of food. And no more desserts at school, since only people who read can afford them.” Most teachers would read the above paragraph with horror that I even sug- gested such treatment of a child who is not interested in books. It seems absurd COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 15