I’d never really thought about how my statements could be setting expectations for my four-year-old grandson until I heard a mother announce to the other parents ,“We’re grouchy today. We got up too early.” She was sitting on the park bench with each of her children, a child of two or thereabout and another around four, wiggling to seemingly get onto her lap. The four-year of was whining loudly that Ian, the younger, was in his way. Ian was whimpering.
I wondered what these children were hearing. Was the expectation set that they should be grouchy? If, as I like to think, children this age are trying to figure out what their role is, what they are suppose to do, these children were behaving very obediently.
Would their behavior have been different if the parent had said instead, “ We got up way too early today. We will have to work hard to keep our voices low and to find things to do to not be grouchy. Let’s build a road in the sand box,” she could have continued, getting up to move the children over to an activity they usually enjoyed.