Preschoolers are adorable, there’s no denying that; but they can also be insistent and assertive. You often hear about the terrible twos, but I honestly find that the threes are much more difficult. The ‘me-do-it’ stage will drive you insane and don’t be surprised if you end up in the ER getting stitches or a cast. Their curiosity has no bounds.
A lot of the same tactics that I started using with my toddlers still work for my preschoolers but as they get trickier, you have to get trickier, too! 🙂 Remember that the independence they’re beginning to exhibit is a good thing. (You might want to tattoo that on your arm.) Most of these are really common sense, but are things I have to remind myself daily.
- My way may be faster and less messy, but they won’t learn by watching me do it.
- Preschool is a great time to start letting kids help in the kitchen. Even if it’s just mixing one thing into the bowl, they really feel like they’ve made a significant contribution. When they are proud of their creation, they are more likely to taste it…so go ahead and make some homemade granola.
- With my older kids, we didn’t allow them to use a lot of electronic devices until they were a little older. But we’ve been letting the 3-year-old play a few iphone apps geared towards preschoolers. The ones he and I both like are Shape Builder, Cars 2, and (of course) Angry Birds.
- When your child seems to be ignoring you, make him or her stop what they are doing and look you in the eye. It’s hard to ignore someone when you are staring at them. Be firm and make sure they are understanding.
- We make promises a big deal. If need the child to do something specific, I make them raise their right hand and repeat after me: “I promise…to not hit my sister…anymore today.” (It works more often than it doesn’t, but it’s not 100%.)
- When Christmas or a birthday gets close, we play The Gift Bag Game. Each person takes a gift bag and puts something in it. You call come back to home base and exchange gifts. Then each person takes turn opening his or her ‘gift’ and saying Thank You. They think it’s a lot of fun and you are teaching manners. Win-win.
- Bubbles. Just buy the biggest container you can find. (Or make your own.)
- We don’t ever force our kids clean their plates but when they reach the 3 year mark, we make them eat at least one bite per year old. So the three year old has to eat 3 bites. The 5 year old has to eat at least 5 bites. Seven year old, 7 bites. (For our 3 year old, that first bite is the hardest. Then he usually forgets that he only has to have three bites and gobbles up most of his food.)
- We go on lots of ‘nature walks’ (i.e. wander around the backyard) and pick up ‘treasures’ (aka leaves, acorns, pine needles, etc). Sometimes we even glue our treasures onto pieces of paper to display. One of my favorite nature art projects was using leaves and sticks to make tree art.
- Now that your child is old enough to talk to you (somewhat) and do things (somewhat), your child can really get into doing fun activities and crafts. My two favorite go-to blogs for preschoolers are No Time For Flash Cards and Impress Your Kids. Allie and Amanda are top notch moms with great ideas. At Impress Your Kids, Amanda shares some really great ways to teach your children about God and faith and she does a great job breaking things down to an understandable level.