Parenting: Tools to use with preschoolers

Parenting a preschooler is a tricky thing. Ever-changing with an expanding vocabulary, preschoolers seem so neat and interesting in one moment and then so frustrating and power-hungry in the next. Here are four tips to make life easier when parenting a preschooler.

1. Let Preschoolers be in control when it makes sense.

We tend to tell our three- and four-year-olds what to do much of the time. They are tired of it. They are starting to become more independent and they want to make their own decisions. “I want to do it!” is a common refrain. There are times where we still need to be the one controlling the shots, but when we allow our child to have power some of the time, he will fight for it less often.

Rather than telling him what to do, ask a question:

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“What do you need on your feet so that they don’t get cold?”
Where do you need to be so that we can get to preschool?”
Do you want to eat your beans first or your chicken?”
Would you like to go to bed at 7:30 or 7:35?”

2. Understand that Preschoolers don’t understand

No matter how verbally precocious your preschooler is, there is a good chance that she is still stuck in a stage of ego-centric development (this usually shifts between 4.5 and 5 years). The child is unable to realize that there is any point of view other than her own. When you decide to do something different than what she thinks should happen, it’s not that she doesn’t like your idea; it is that she cannot comprehend how you could think something different than she does. What to do about that? See Tool #3!

3. Routines mean that your point of view is the same as your preschoolers

The way to keep your preschooler on the same page as you is to create as many routines as possible. When everyone knows the routine, parents don’t have to boss the kids around and kids feel like they have more power because life is predictable. Create routines with your child,  for everything from ‘Going to Ballet Class’ to ‘Mealtime clean up’ and ‘Bedtime.’

4. Tell them what to do, rather than what not to do

When we tell a child to STOP (running, yelling, hitting), he may not remember what to do instead. When your preschooler is running through the house, rather than saying, “Stop Running!” calmly say, “Use walking feet please.” Then make sure that he actually walks.

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When your child has left the table and is still eating, you can say, “When we eat we sit,” then put the child back on the chair and require him to stay still while eating. If he chooses to stand again, he loses the food.

Give these tools a try and if you need more help, let us know and we’ll show you the way.