Positive discipline – perception and perspective

Help children begin to think about how things look from someone else’s point of view.

Books can help children begin to think about how things look from someone else's point of view. Photo credit: FreeImages.com/Ned Horton.

Books can help children begin to think about how things look from someone else's point of view. Photo credit: FreeImages.com/Ned Horton.

Most children and adults are familiar with the story of the Three Little Pigs, and the Big, Bad Wolf, but have you ever read the children’s book “The True Story of the Three Pigs as written by A. Wolf?”  The author, Jon Scieszka, along with illustrator Lane Smith, tell the same, familiar story but from the view of the wolf.  It is both entertaining and thought provoking.  If you’re not familiar with the story, check out your local library or book store to find a copy or listen to it being read by James Scott on YouTube.  In the wolf’s re-telling of the same events, he views everything differently than the three pigs.  He compares eating the little pig to leaving food out in the hot sun to spoil and he labels the three pigs as being very rude and inhospitable.  The author ends the story commenting on how the wolf’s actions were taken out of context and blown all out of proportion.

While the book itself is entertaining for young children, it can help children begin to think about how things look from someone else’s point of view. According to Michigan State University Extension, it can also help parents and caregivers to do a second-take as they think about positive discipline.  For instance, an adult might say to a child something like, “Don’t take that toy away from Billy” and the child replies, “but I was playing with it first.” Another example might show an adult talking to a child who is crying because Susie took their doll and advising them to use their words only to be told by the child that they did and Susie said “no.”

Often times, we are tempted to react to a situation based on what we see, when in fact, we would be better off listening to the children involved and getting their perspective first.  Sometimes the situation really is as we see it, but often it is not.  Hearing both perspectives is helpful in teaching children ways to resolve issues. Listening to every child involved and encouraging them to fill you in about the events while the other child listens along with you, will enable you to get a better idea of what really happened.  More importantly, it will also encourage children to listen to each other and to begin to consider the other person’s view and their feelings.  When listening to both versions of the story of The Three Little Pigs, you’ll see an excellent example of how the same situation and events were viewed completely differently by each side.  The same is often true in real life, so when the solution is the same, listen carefully and consider both points of view.