Preschoolers are Developing a Sense of Independence
If you are the parent of a preschooler, you are probably hearing a lot of, “No!” and “I can do it myself!” as your child starts to want to be independent. At this age, your child is learning new things every day, and you can support his development by letting him make some small decisions, doing fun activities, and helping him explore new things!
Tips to Make Activities Fun for the Whole Family
• Give your child choices. If you ask your child what she wants to wear that day, you are probably setting yourself up for a morning of tantrums when she picks out a sundress in the middle of winter and you have to say no. Help your child make some small decisions by giving her options, such as choosing between two outfits or between cereal and toast for breakfast.
• Let your child try. Be patient with your child, as it may take many tries at tying his shoes before he can finally do it himself. Buy clothes that your child can easily put on and take off by himself like pants with elastic waists or pullover sweaters. If he becomes frustrated, help talk him through a difficult task and praise him when he completes it. Most importantly, remember that a sense of humor can turn a stressful moment into a fun one. If your preschooler refuses to put on his coat, put it on the dog - the distraction and laughter may make him put it on right away without a fuss!
• Say what you mean and mean what you say. Preschoolers need clear directions. For example, saying “I see you put some toys away, but I'd like it if you put the rest in the toy box” tells her what you want her to do and reinforces good behavior, whereas saying “this room is still messy” is not as specific and is negative. Also, preschoolers need limits. Let your child know what to expect and what is expected of her when it comes to small chores that she can and should do, and consequences for when she doesn't listen.
• Keep him busy. Your preschooler is active and always needs to be busy doing something, but you don't have to go far to think of things to do. For some easy ways to engage your preschooler in everyday tasks and playtime activities check out this article.
• Help your child transition. At this age, children still need to know what to expect from their day. Even with a regular routine, your child still needs time to adjust to different things in the day, such as being dropped to school. You can make these times easier by talking him through them. For example, tell him he has ten more minutes to play before it's time to leave for school, and reassure him that you will be there to pick him up after rest time is over at school.
• Talk and read to your child. The best way to support your preschooler's learning and spend quality time with her is to have a conversation with her and read to her. Take advantage of things like car or train rides to talk about your child's day and discuss your surroundings. Take your child to the library and help her pick out some books that you can read together. And of course, make reading part of your child's bedtime routine, even if she asks for the same book every night. You'll see that this might even become your favorite part of the day!