When Your Pre-schooler Pesters and Persists

Once our little learners start to develop speech and language skills it doesn’t take them long to realise that they can ask for things… many, many things. Sometimes totally outlandish things!

Inevitably, as responsible parents and caregivers, we will need to become very familiar with that little phrase – NO. No, no, no, no, no. We say it until we’re sick of hearing ourselves say it. We sometimes say it until it doesn’t even seem to mean anything anymore…

Welcome to the challenging, yet perfectly normal, pestering stage in your child’s development.

What causes it?

Believe it or not, pestering and endless strings of questions are a good thing. This behaviour shows that your child is engaging with the ever-growing and interesting world around them. They see wonderful and fascinating things that they want to try, and they don’t yet understand the need for limits and restrictions.

Hence the pestering begins: Can I have… Can we go to… Can I, can I, can I…

The more we say no, the more we can feel like the bad guy and sometimes it’s hard not to give in, especially when you want to avoid a meltdown. But the more we give in, the more our little monkeys will know that pestering works, and that no doesn’t always mean no.

When is it pestering?

We should not discourage our children from asking questions, far from it. Children develop by questioning things and it is our responsibility to answer calmly and informatively whenever possible. It is the persistent tantrum harbouring requests for superficial things that constitutes pestering.

How can we avoid it?

  • Ensure your child knows how you expect them to behave when in public or out shopping and always praise them for doing so.
  • Tell your child how you will respond if they pester you for things, and stay true to your words.
  • Whenever possible try to explain why it would not be a good idea for them to have/eat/do something, so that they can attempt to understand your reasoning.
  • Offer healthy or more feasible alternatives. Try to focus on the positives of something else: “Not chocolate, no. But these strawberries look delicious. Let’s get these!”
  • You can also distract your child from a particular hankering by asking them to find something, or look at something with you.
  • Reward your child with a healthy motivation for shopping nicely or behaving well. Extra story time or a trip to the park…
  • Try to avoid using kids’ apps or games that have too many in-app purchases or advertisements. With learning and reading apps quality is always better than quantity.
  • Teach your child that adverts are often misleading and it can help to weaken their influence. For example, you could show your child how much bigger and yummier a homemade cheeseburger is, compared to the substandard fast-food version or how branded items are not necessarily better.

Above all stay calm, pester power is such a well-known childhood ability that it’s even in the dictionary and if you end up with a public showdown just remember – most of us have been there at some point.

At Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare we are good at answering questions. We are also great at making sure your little learner develops the core values and healthy habits that will encourage them to make better choices.