Being a preschooler is awkward at times. Your preschooler is no longer the sweet toddler who will fight you to the last pretzel crumb, and yet he still has time until he possesses the easy self-confidence of the first grader.
Children who suffer from weak language development can be especially difficult, since they have the desires of a child their age without the language to express it.
In the meantime, your preschooler is a little bit like a moist butterfly struggling to free itself from the chrysalis. Unsure of whether he wants to be “big,” you may find him resorting to baby talk in the morning while insisting on doing everything by himself later on in the afternoon.
Naturally this yo-yo-ing is bound to cause quite a few clashes, as you try to figure out how much space to give your preschooler, and when. However, when do you find yourself at odds with your determined preschooler, there are several techniques you can pull out of your once-upon-a-time diaper bag that are sure to gain your preschooler’s cooperation almost every time:
1. Make him want to do it. Usually we approach things from our perspective. We want our son to eat his lunch because it’s healthy, and because we took the time to prepare it. We want our daughter to stop jumping in the mud puddles because we don’t want that new dress to get ruined.
What if instead, you stopped to consider the situation from your child’s point of view?
Instead of insisting that he eat his food because it’s healthy (so you say), why not remind him that if he eats all of his food he’ll get tall enough for that new “big boy” bike he’s been pestering you about? Of course you have to make sure he understands he won’t grow tall right away, but he wants that bicycle so strongly that he’ll probably be willing to eat cold fish soup to get it.
2. Say it with a smile. It’s amazing how simple it is, but a genuine smile softens even the worst of blows. Not only can a smile say I love you, and I enjoy you, but a smile can also show sympathy at having to break up a good pillow fight to send your mini-marauders off to bed.
3. Show how you care about what is important to him. Let’s face it: in the day to day grind of taking care of small children, sometimes your mind starts to operate on auto pilot. You don’t mean to, but at the end of the day it seems sacrifice enough to be listening at all, after having been immersed in Little People Land for several hours.
Despite this, try at least a few times a day to show interest in what your child enjoys and is enthusiastic about. Stop what you’re doing, make eye contact, and make sure your voice tone shows you are genuinely interested. You’ll probably find your child needs less attention from you.
4. Let her feel important. At the end of the day, small children aren’t much different in this than their grown-up counterparts: everyone likes to feel important, in some way. Children try in so many ways to feel important – sometimes by imitating the grown-ups, sometimes by showing off a new skill.
But if your child doesn’t have a legitimate opportunity to strut her stuff, she’ll find some other way to do it, and it won’t always be pleasant for you.
Give your child a chance daily to show how big she is, whether that means helping set the table for dinner, folding and putting away her clothing, or helping bathe her baby brother.
She’ll not only be happier and more cooperative, but she’ll be eager to pay back the favor - and will do so by being extra cooperative, even during times when you would have expected her to balk.