Monday, February 25, 2013

Preschoolers and Independence

by Kelly Miller

"Mommy, I need help!"  "Mommy, I can do it myself!" I never know what to expect from my 3-year-old.

Preschoolers are in the developmental stage of learning independence and separating from parents.  It is very common for a 3-year-old to flip-flop between wanting to be independent and needing to run back to his or her parents or nanny.  Children at this age are building a sense of identity.  They are learning how to play with other children, how to use the toilet by themselves, beginning to brush their own teeth and starting to dress themselves.

Our job at this stage is to let our child step out and try to develop new skills, but at the same time staying close by so the child feels secure. For example letting the child use the toilet on their own, but stay right outside the bathroom in case help is needed. 

Preschoolers are more verbal, and they are beginning to label emotions.  My son is constantly looking at my face and asking me if I am happy, sad, mad, etc. Giving children the words and skills to begin to manage their emotions is very important at this age; hopefully meltdowns and tantrums are becoming less common as vocabulary is increasing. 

Sharing and taking turns is an important skill to develop at this stage.  Setting a timer so children know when their turn is over is a logical way to share a certain car, doll, other toy or object. 

Here are some developmental checklists that may be helpful to the parent or nanny of a 3-year-old.

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