The Preschool Years
The preschool years are an exciting but intense time for us as parents, and for our children. Schooling choices, potty training, and socialization. In the beginning, we fought our way through sleepless nights, survived the terrible two’s, and just as we thought the worst was over, enter the tantrum filled, whiny preschool years. Obviously, we knew parenting wasn’t going to be easy–especially when we are working through our children’s crucial child development years. But, we love our children, even though sometimes they make us want to pull our hair out–they have this kooky way of making us smile at the end of the day. So, don’t we owe it to our children to mold them into the best person they can be? Here is a parent-friendly way to tackle the aggravating preschool-age behaviors head-on, hopefully without losing your mind!
As well all know, our kids aren’t born polite. They will tell you the cold, hard truth. I remember going to an antique store a few years back and hearing “this is soooo ugly–mom, look how ugly this is!” The woman gave me a dirty look, and we just left. I haven’t been back since. We, as parents, know that our child’s social behavior is learned through experience and what we teach them. If you are a good example of being polite, your child will emulate that. Tip #1, let your child frequently hear you say “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me.” It being polite is part of your everyday interactions with others around you, your child will think of it as second-nature and will display those traits.
We’ve all seen how fast our children absorb information–it’s astonishing–and when they’re bombarded with a lots of dos and don’ts, they can easily forget – so Tip #2 is to introduce rules gradually and offer plenty of gentle reminders. When you notice your child making an effort to be polite to others, give them a little positive feedback by saying, “I liked the way you said thank you when grandma gave you that new toy.” This type of honest praise will encourage your little one to continue with their polite ways.
The one thing that gets on my nerves the most is the high-pitched squeals of a child. Mostly because I get migraines very easily from it. It’s tempting to give in to your whining preschooler’s demands just to silence him, but caving in will only perpetuate the behavior. Tip #3 is when your child starts to whine, stay calm and request that he speak to you using his normal voice. But, if the whining is continuous, your child might be signaling something deeper. Take a step back and assess your situation. Have you been preoccupied with other things lately? Have you had more stress than usual and less time to spend with your child? This may be a plea for attention so it’s always important to make an effort to spend one-on-one time with each of your children each day.
Compliance, every parent’s favorite word
Preschoolers have an amazing sense of autonomy through the preschool years and they aren’t afraid to let others know it! Your child refuses to eat, go to bed, get dressed, put shoes on, etc. Unfortunately, we, as parents, are always on the receiving end of this non-compliant behavior. When your young child refuses to do what you ask, it’s easy get frustrated and lose it. We’ve all been there. But flipping out and punishing your child won’t solve the problem – it will only lead to unnecessary power struggles and more frustration for both of you.
Luckily, there is a way to combat this non-compliance. Tip #4, allow your preschooler to make simple choices. Before your child gets dressed in the mornings, lay out two outfits, and let him choose which one he wants to wear. During lunchtime your little one can decide whether he wants a turkey or peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At night, you can give your child the option of taking a bath before dinner or after (of course, you’ll need a little wipe-down after dinner if they choose to have a bath before they eat). Offering limited choices to your youngster can give them the independence they need without compromising your sanity. The choices you give your child should be ones that you don’t mind complying with either, so no matter what your youngster chooses, it’s a win-win for each of you.
And last, but not least–Tip #5 – Routines! Routines can save a parent’s sanity and are great for children. Routines enable youngsters to predict what’s going to happen next, and if your child understands that nap-time comes shortly after lunch, he’ll be less likely to put up a fight because knowing what to expect gives him a sense of control. In order for routines to be effective though, they have to be consistent, so once you get your child’s routine in place, avoid any unnecessary disruptions.
Our children aren’t robots and tackling their rude comments, whining and refusals won’t come over night. These behaviors are a normal part of preschool development, and nipping them in the bud takes time, but when we work with our kids on their behaviors, improvements are sure to be made.