As your child transitions from toddlerhood to preschool age, she’ll crave more independence and socialization. With the right approach, you can help your child cultivate the skills to express and regulate her emotions, as well as develop healthy social relationships with others.
What better way for a preschooler to learn to take turns and gain patience than playing a game? During family time, grab a stuffed animal. When someone is holding the animal, it’s her turn to talk. Encourage that person to talk about something exciting that happened to them that day before passing the stuffed animal to someone else. Set a timer for five minutes if you have a little chatty Cathy. Preschool board games like Candy Land and Memory also offer opportunities for your preschooler to work on taking turns. Simon Says works, too. This gives her a chance to tell people what to do without getting in trouble.
Offer a trunk of dress-up clothes to play make-believe, fostering imagination and creativity. This way, she's given free reign to act out emotions that she may be feeling in a constructive way. Let her take the lead and have fun with it. Puppets also work for this activity.
Children at this age are gaining more independence and like to feel like a big kid. Not only should you set clear, simple and consistent rules for her, you can delegate some simple chores. You’ll gain a little helper and teach her responsibility. Allow her to help brainstorm some chores for her to do, make a simple chore chart and discuss rewards for completing her jobs. This can include stickers for each chore completed, as well as weekly rewards, such as a book or small treat. It’s also vital that you praise her frequently for her hard work, as it strengthens her self-esteem and keeps her motivated.
She may be small, but she has feelings and emotions, too. Help her identify what she’s feeling, label it, talk about it and discuss possible solutions, if needed. If she’s upset, you can say, “I see that you’re sad that your friend had to go home. Do you want to talk about it?" If you’re child doesn’t want to talk, you can try a different approach. Pull out an emotion chart and ask her how she feels today. These charts have several faces showing different emotions on them. If you don’t get a response, you can be silly and go through the emotions, making the faces for each and ask, “Do you feel like this? How about this?”
Model appropriate emotional regulation and problem-solving skills. For example, if you knocked over a box of rice, you can state, “I’m frustrated that I made such a mess. I’m going to take five big breaths to push out the icky feelings and then I’m going to sweep it up.” You can also discuss problem solving while reading books with your kiddo. Read a page and before you turn to the next, as her what she thinks the main character should do or how she thinks he feels.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images