How to Teach Preschoolers About Obeying Authority: 5 Steps
Edit Article

Give your little one the tools to listen to authority figures.

It probably goes without saying, but preschoolers have minds of their own. In fact, your little one might be adorable, but strong-willed and uber-stubborn at the same time. While you might be stellar at managing your tiny tyrant's personality, you'll need to help your child learn to obey authority. Whether she's starting preschool or going to a playgroup, you can ensure a (mostly) well-behaved and attentive child if you give her the skills necessary to listen up and obey when the time is right.


  1. 1
    Point out the difference between a teacher or playgroup leader and a stranger using pictures, and talk to your child about people who are authority figures in your community. This way, your child can identify which authority figures are safe to obey and which ones are the most familiar to her.
  2. 2
    Set up a mock school room and practice giving short and understandable commands to your preschooler. This helps her practice how to listen to authority figures through imaginative play at home. Even better, have her play teacher and issue commands to you -- it'll be more like a game and help her see how quickly you obey simple commands.
  3. 3
    Sign up for playgroups or arrange for play dates and then observe your child when she interacts with parents or playgroup leaders. If you notice that she isn't listening the way she should, correct her discreetly and explain "Mrs. Smith said to put away the toys. We should listen because it's almost time for snack!" This helps your child make the connection between the reason for a command and why it benefits her to take note.
  4. 4
    Praise your preschooler when she shows that she can listen and obey the authority figures in her life. Be specific so she knows exactly which type of behavior caught your eye, such as "I loved the way you listened to your preschool teacher and got ready for art. You're such a good listener!" The positive feedback makes your little one more likely to repeat the good behavior in the future.
  5. 5
    Offer logical consequences when you observe that your child isn't obeying teachers, friend's parents or other authority figures. If she's ignoring her teacher or another caregiver, step in and keep her on the sidelines while you watch the other kids enjoy another activity. Or try an old-fashioned time-out if she's involved in a Teddy bear tug-of-war with another child and won't stop when she's asked. When your child realizes that listening up is to her benefit, she'll catch on and start honing her listening and obeying skills.

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

Did this article help you?


an Author!

Write an Article