Three Tips For Your Tiny Human
"Are we there yet?"
"Can we read it again?!"
If the above phrases come as a familiar echo of the little voice (or voices) in your life, welcome to the club of preschool (PRE-K) parenting!
Read below for three handy hints to help understand your PRE-K pal’s logic, lengthen their attention span and build cognitive awareness and understanding of the world around them.
“Are we there yet?”
Translation: I can’t see the last landmark you pointed out 5 minutes ago, so clearly, we must have arrived at our destination.
The Logic: The concept of ‘time’ for a toddler is flexible and generally revolves around object placement. When the person, place or object goes out of sight, it’s gone. Their memory recall is still developing, so when things disappear from sight it starts the game over again. This is most prevalent between the ages of 18 – 26 months; where children have difficulty separating from their primary caregiver and may show signs of clinginess, anxiety or fear when detaching from someone or something in their visual. There’s little point in giving a child of this age a time approximation. 5 minutes can mean 5 hours, days or years in their mind.
Visual cues and routine help children understand the sequence of events in their day. You can use picture cards and explain to your child the order of events. (e.g. wake up, breakfast, school, play, lunch, nap, etc). This helps them understand the broad structure of what to expect in the morning, afternoon or evening. As your child sticks to a regular routine each day; especially around meals and sleeping patterns, they will gradually begin to broaden their understanding of time to include sequences, as well as anticipate events or activities that are yet to occur. (i.e., Yesterday was Monday, TODAY is Tuesday and TOMORROW will be Wednesday.)
“Can we read the story ONE more time?”
Now that we’ve closed the book I can’t remember, even though I just heard it 5 times, if Sam does or doesn’t like Green Eggs & Ham. Let’s start again and see.
The Logic: Toddlers are learning to practice cause and effect. Repetition is important to their early development as they learn what may remain the same (Sam really, really doesn’t like Green Eggs & Ham) what routinely occurs (Mum always comes to collect them from preschool) and what changes (Mom's tummy gets bigger and baby brother or sister eventually joins the clan.)
“But, it’s MINE!”
I got bored playing with it and put it down. The minute you, or someone else takes an interest in it, it automatically becomes interesting again. Since you like it, I’ve decided I WANT it.
The Logic: Children at this age are learning to find their place in the world around them. They move from completely self-centered thinking as infants to abstract awareness as toddlers (aka they look for and observe reactions to their behavioral patterns) and later cognitive adjustment; they anticipate a reaction and build their actions around what routinely occurs when they engage in an activity.
Grabbing a toy = Friend 1 cries.
Tossing a spoon on the floor = dad frowning.
Crying out loud = a hug & comfort from mum.
The Hack: While toddlers typically protest the uncomfortable realization that the entire world doesn’t revolve around them alone, they also enjoy and seek out positive reinforcement.
Simply put, they like to please and crave approval.
Recognizing and over-emphasizing that positive behavior like asking, waiting, or sharing elicits a good response; while ignoring or firmly stating that negative behavior like biting, hitting or throwing a fit causes a negative reaction and/or a consequence, helps your child learn to regulate their emotions, accept their place in a family or social environment, and develop the foundation for decoding simple logic and critical thinking skills.