When children reach preschool age, they will begin to interact more with people than before, and discover all sorts of new things about themselves. Around three years of age, toddlers’ selfishness tends to decrease. Their dependency on you will also lessen. This is a signal that youngsters are becoming more secure, and their sense of identity is getting stronger, which is an important part of social development. Your child, who previously played side-by-side with other children, will begin interacting with peers instead. 

During this process, young children begin to recognize that not all people are the same as themselves. They will discover that their playmates have their own unique qualities, especially some that may or may not be attractive. You may even find that your child is drawn to kids with a certain kind of personality. You may even observe children beginning to develop friendships.

As kids start interacting with their friends, they also begin to discover that they too have some qualities that are also likable. This discovery will also help to boost their self-confidence. In this post, we will discuss a variety of ways to support your preschooler’s social development.

Learning about cooperation

The importance of cooperation is a virtue we need to encourage in our children from an early age. For example, when youngsters are dealing with a problem, we need to teach them how to solve it by talking instead of acting out. Help young children understand that when they are taking turns sharing a toy, each child will get an equal amount of playtime with it. Present easy solutions when two children want the same toy.

Teach children appropriate language to articulate their feelings. Above all, set a positive example when it comes to solving problems while remaining calm.

When frustration and anger become physical

It’s common for youngsters to act out physically when they become angry or frustrated. In such situations, it is the responsibility of the parent to restrain and redirect them. If your little one has trouble calming down after you intervene, you need to remove your child from the other children.

Discuss your child’s feelings and find out what caused your little one to become upset. Tell children that you understand why they feel the way they do, but also impress upon them that resolving conflict through violence is not an acceptable way of dealing with negative feelings.

Testing limits

Sometimes parents notice that their relationship with their little ones has changed, even drastically at times, due to their budding new friendships. When this happens, don’t despair. During this time, you might even find your child answering you rudely for the first time. Although it may be hard to accept, consider this a positive sign that children are discovering how to confront authority and demonstrate their independence.

Again, express disapproval of these words or actions, and discuss how they feel and what they really mean. An emotional reaction from you to these behavior changes is likely to only encourage further bad behavior. If talking doesn’t work, the next effective discipline is a time-out or a time-in.

Parents need to understand that preschoolers are still discovering which behaviors will be tolerated and which ones are unacceptable. Their sense of morality is still extremely simple. For example, if they break something by accident, they might assume that they did something wrong and worthy of punishment. You need to draw the line between misbehavior and accident.

Apologizing

Help children “walk in someone else’s shoes”, namely someone who’s feeling hurt, by reminding them of a situation in which someone screamed at or hit them. Then discuss the ways that fights can be resolved peacefully. And once they understand that they’ve made a mistake, ask them to say they’re sorry to the child whom they’ve hurt. Although your child may learn how to deliver an apology, don’t expect all behavior to be corrected immediately. It will take time before youngsters fully understand and internalize why they need to apologize.

Gender role and identity development

A study has revealed that some behavioral and developmental differences that commonly distinguish boys from girls are determined biologically. There are several gender-connected characteristics at this age that are very likely to be molded by family and culture. For example, your daughter may gravitate toward dolls because of what she sees portrayed in ads and the gifts she receives from her relatives. On the other hand, some boys will avoid these types of toys in favor of playing rougher sports and games. When children enter kindergarten, their gender identities tend to be firmly established.

Separate your children from the behaviors

Your child’s actions don’t determine their worth. When children misbehave, parents need to remember to distinguish their children from their actions. Make it clear that they are being punished because of what they did, not because of who they are.

If children are fighting with a sibling, don’t attack their nature by saying, “You’re bad.” Instead, explain why the behavior is unacceptable.

The Pillars Christian Learning Center offers a variety of activities that will enrich your preschooler’s social development. Call us for more information!