The ages of three to five can be such a hard time for many parents. These ages see a change in behavior from when children were two, especially for first children who previously were interested in being at their mother’s side. I have had many parents of three and four and a half year olds write me and ask me what is going on with their child that they have changed SO MUCH. “They were sweet, and now they are not” is a common refrain I hear.
Your child IS still sweet, but now they are realizing they can use their bodies and will forces in all sorts of ways. Much of it is simply to see what happens without an preconceived ideas of what will result; much of it is repeated since the capacity for memory typically is not well-developed until age six or seven. Words often are of little help until about four and a half. For example, a two and half or three year old can often repeat something such as “we don’t hit”, but then will turn around and hit a playmate.
In many developmental phases, it is important to remember that when parents describe children as “bossy, tense, rigid, demanding, explosive” this really covers up the fact that the child may actually be experiencing a sense of insecurity or uncertainty as development shifts.
Ho-hum, ho-hum is your friend! Find your ho-hum and turn it on.
Consistency and rhythm is so important and the number one thing I see parents struggle to attain. Much of this stems from the fact that there is societal pressure to exposure small children to many different things – exposure is seen as good for tiny children. Also, things seem to need to be “bigger, better and more stimulating” because it is exhausting to “entertain” a three to five year old all day long. But remember…
You shouldn’t have to entertain your child all day long and you shouldn’t have to leave your house in order for your children to be happy. Meaningful work is the key to this, along with being outside. I have many back posts on these topics!
Distraction with verses and singing is still your very good friend when you have three to five year olds. Going outside can also help.
Keep activities outside the home limited. I know it is the “norm” to have children in preschool and classes at age three, and I will continue to rally against this. Even two or three hours out of the home is a lot for a three year old. They do not need lessons, classes, or structured activities for their own development at this age. “Play is where it is at!” Studies have shown that children in play-based settings (again, though, we don’t need a program to play!) have greater academic gains in fourth grade than students who were in academic learning programs from an early age. Earlier is NOT better. We CANNOT rush development. Development of the child has not changed. If your child has to be in a program because you work, look for a play-based program that involves lots of time outside in all kinds of weather.
Tantrum tally for you! It often is not about what our child is doing, but how we react because we are exhausted, tired, trying to do too much, alone with a small child many hours of the day. Dealing with anger is a real part of parenting!Try this back post about regarding dealing with anger and also this one about anger and forgiveness. . Also, if you look under “Book Reviews” in the header we went chapter by chapter through the wonderful book, “Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma”.
No screens. Screen do absolutely nothing for the development of a child these ages. Movement, movement, movement – not sitting still and focusing on a screen.
Lots of love to all my parents of small children today. You may not hear it enough, but you are doing a wonderful job!