The Preschooler age is a rewarding, albeit challenging age. According to developmental psychology, experiences at this age (early childhood experiences) influence a huge chunk of personality. It makes sense because, at this age, children have already started to become more aware that their actions will have corresponding consequences.
As parents, you would want to make sure that your children grow up to have positive early childhood experiences for them to have a bigger chance of growing up to become more well-rounded adults. The only question is, HOW? Many parenting books and studies have tried to answer the right way to parent. They are correct, and they are also wrong. It all depends on the child because they have their own budding personalities and attitudes that will respond differently to each parenting technique.
However, the common consensus is, high-structure, high-nurture parenting, also known as therapeutic parenting, has a positive impact at any age. It is a technique usually applied by foster parents for children that have been abused or neglected by their primary caregivers. It essentially creates a trusting environment that will make the children feel safe. If that sounds too general, fret not. Let us get into specifics.
Here Are Our 6 Tips for Parents of A Preschooler
- Use developmental milestones as a guide – the more we are knowledgeable about what to expect of our children at that age, the more we know how to deal with their behaviour.
- When setting boundaries for a preschooler, EXPLAIN to them in a way that they will understand it. Sometimes, “because I said so” is the easiest way to get our three-year-old to stop colouring on the walls. Children are smarter than you think, though, and when made to understand your reasoning, the more they are likely to listen to you.
- INCLUDE the preschooler in decision-making, when you can. If you cannot, at least give them the illusion of choice. At this age, children tend to be fussy and will test your boundaries by saying “NO” or questioning everything. By allowing them to make their own choices, you are also teaching them that they have the right to make their own choices (as far as they know), all while getting them to do the task you asked them to do. This is particularly helpful in the following tasks: dressing up, eating, and drinking.
- When they do say “no”, VALIDATE that answer by acknowledging that they do not want to. You can say things like, “You really do not want a bath.” You do not have to accept that they do not want to, but try to see why they might not want to, in this example, take a bath at that very moment. You can ask, and you can also clarify. Tell them you understand how they feel, and if there is something you can do to help allay their concerns (for example, they do not like when soap gets in their eyes), do it.
- ENCOURAGE good behaviour. This can be in the form of a reward system. There is nothing wrong with giving incentives for doing things such as making their own beds or finishing their plate, as long as you can draw the line between overindulgent. Perhaps, if they make their beds for five consecutive days, they get privileges, such as extra time on the iPad, or they get to choose their own dessert.
- APOLOGISE for any mistake you might make. Your child will not disrespect you if you own up to your mistakes; rather, studies show that children tend to respect their parents even more if they know how to acknowledge their own faults. They will also grow up to be more accepting of their own mistakes and will be more open to correcting them.
All of this is easier said than done. There will be days when you just won’t have the energy to do this, and that is okay, as long as you explain your behaviour afterwards and, if applicable, apologise for any pain you may have caused.
Parents that are more traditional in their parenting style may see this as “mollycoddling” them, but we must also remember that children are little humans with their own feelings and thoughts. We, as parents, play a huge part in shaping these feelings and thoughts. The real world will certainly not tolerate or bother to correct bad behaviour; as parents, it is our job to do that, and provide a safe environment for them to trust us for support and advice.