Did you know that the way you parent your preschoolers may affect their psychological well-being, as well as their physical and learning abilities as they grow up? Did you know that at this stage, at least one million new neural connections in their brains are forming each second? The preschoolers’ brains and bodies go through significant milestones physically and mentally, they are eager to observe and learn, and their characters start to form. They absorb what they experience and mimic what they see.
In this article I would like to share with you some essential tips that will help you and your preschooler pass through this lovely and adventurous stage with strong bonding, eager minds, and happy hearts.
Love Them Unconditionally
Love is the core of this life. People cannot live without love, and children cannot nourish without love. Unconditional love is what preschoolers need the most. It is the one thing that will help them grow into happy, secure, and intelligent well-beings. When the preschooler feels the unconditional love of his parent, he is a happy child; whatever the circumstances he is living in, this is the number one need. He needs to feel loved by the people who take care of him to put his trust in this world and feel secure.
Practical ways to show your preschoolers that you love them
1. Tell them every day that you love them.
2. Give hugs and kisses every day.
3. Always smile at them and make them smile.
4. Give them help when they need it and give them time whenever they need you.
5. Show your empathy when they are feeling sad or hurt. Your compassion will make your preschoolers feel loved and feel secure. Your kindness will also teach them to show empathy when they see someone who needs it.
6. Show them your excitement when you see them after some time away. Your preschoolers will know you love them, and by doing this, you are building their confidence too.
7. Praise your preschoolers for a good thing they have done, praise them for their efforts and praise them in front of strangers.
8. Get down on your knees to their level when they have a bad time or a meltdown and see their eyes sparkle with gratitude and happiness.
The Five Languages of love
We can express love in five different ways, but each one of us and each child has his preferred way of experiencing and accepting that love. The five languages of love are words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, gifts, and quality time. To know which is the love language that matters the most with your preschooler, try to notice which language he uses himself to show that he loves you. Does your preschooler usually offer to help you with house chores? Does he or she like to hug you a lot? Does he or she love to spend one-to-one time with you every day and get so upset if you could not? Does he or she always tell you how much they love you? Try to note which way is the most used by your preschooler so that you both can enjoy one of a kind of loving relationship.
Fulfill Their Needs
Preschoolers get multiple meltdowns and tantrums now and then, and most of the time, this happens because there is a need that is not fulfilled. They are still these little human beings who cannot yet fully express their needs or feelings. When they have these meltdowns, the reason might be just because they are tired, hungry, thirsty, sleepy, in pain, or they are very much in need of some attention from their parents.
Effective ways to make sure you fulfilled your preschooler’s needs
- Set a simple routine for the day and be consistent with it. When kids know what they are expecting next, they are less fussy and they feel more confident and secure.
- Choose healthy and well-balanced meals and snacks for your kids every day. If you are going out for quite a long time, have some snacks prepared for you and the kids to have on the go.
- Stick to a sleeping routine to decrease the fussiness around bedtime as your preschooler already knows what he needs to do next. Make a simple routine for bedtime and make sure they get enough hours of sleep for their age. Preschoolers need around ten to twelve hours of sleep. Your preschooler needs to get enough sleep as in the long run, lack of sleep may lead to anxiety and depression and affects their behavior and learning. Enough good quality sleep for preschoolers improves their attention, memory, and overall physical and mental health.
- Set a particular screen time limit for your kids as too much screen time can increase kids’ fussiness and lead to poor sleep quality.
- Make sure nothing is hurting them as sometimes kids cannot express what they are feeling at this young age.
- Name the different feelings they experience that will make it easier for them to recognize what they are feeling in different situations. Is it happy, sad, jealous, scared, and so on, and that decreases lots of misunderstandings and meltdowns.
- Give two or three acceptable choices and let them choose themselves; this will save many minutes and hours of meltdowns and build a sense of responsibility and confidence in your preschooler.
The special one-to-one quality time
Make sure to spend at least 10 minutes of one-to-one time with your preschooler every day. This quality time is the perfect time for you to strengthen the bond between you and fulfill the need to get your attention and love. During the special time, you need to give your full attention and show your child excitement. You need not have any distractions with the phone or anything else to ensure you spend it with optimum quality and make your child feel confident by knowing how much you love and care for them. Let your child choose what he likes to do with you in his special time. Try not to criticize or give directions during this time.
Parenting tips for preschoolers play time
Playing in the world of preschoolers is everything. It is the way they function at this age and the best of their knowledge. They explore the world through play, learn new information, and develop cognitive skills to enhance their creativity, imagination, and social skills like sharing, caring and taking turns. It is stated as a right for every child by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. That is why it is essential to plan their day so that there is enough time for free play, organized play, or even play dates if that is an option.
Fine motor skills development
- Playdough and kinetic sand enhance creativity and fine motor skills. They also soothe anxiety and boost the kids’ imagination, creativity, and fine motor skills.
- Drawing: Preschoolers enjoy holding a pencil or a crayon. At this age range, they can draw people and objects and can also start tracing letters and numbers. Drawing helps a lot in developing their fine motor skills.
- Do with your preschooler some simple and creative arts and crafts because these are two vital activities that need to be included in the preschooler’s day. The benefits of arts and crafts for preschoolers are countless. Arts and crafts help boost preschoolers’ creativity, help boost their imagination, give them a sense of pride and achievement, connect them with the materials and things around them, help in the development of eye-hand coordination. They also help enhance skills such as cutting with the scissors, holding crayons, and gluing. And the best thing is that kids who do arts and crafts regularly do better in their learning progress.
- Give your kid a coloring book or a picture to color and watch him enjoy some quality time. Coloring is a milestone that develops at this age range. It enhances the gross motor skills of the arms and hands and the fingers’ fine motor skills. It also helps develop cognitive skills like imagination and creativity.
Cognitive and character-building development
- Playing with building blocks, Lego and puzzles has countless benefits at this brain development stage. Spending time on these quality games boosts your preschooler’s cognitive brain functions.
- Hide and seek games are of significant benefit to preschoolers. Besides how fun and exciting it is for them to play, it also enhances their gross motor skills, balancing, and listening skills.
- Pretend play and make-believe games are some of the most loved playing times for preschoolers. They both combine many benefits in one game, so they are more like character-building quality playtime. Pretend play, and make-believe games teach the kids communication and social skills. They also teach them how to be in someone else’s role in life, so they see the world from other angles. These games also teach them the skills to take turns, share, organize, be creative, imagine, and conversational.
When discipline is mentioned, many parents think it is all about shouting, punishing, or spanking, but these ways have now been proved by research that they may have immediate effects only, may cause many personality disorders, and could affect your relationship with your child on the long run. By discipline, I mean the steps and methods you can embrace to improve your preschooler’s behavior.
Practical and useful tips for encouraging good behavior
- Set a routine for the day and bedtime to reduce the number of times your kid may get fussy. When kids know which step will be next, they are calmer and more settled. You can draw or take a picture of your child doing each step in the daily routine and paste them in a poster in a place easily seen by them.
- Praise good behavior. Praising good behavior is one of the best ways of encouraging good behavior and boosting your child’s confidence. You can also make a reward chart to encourage good behavior.
- Listen to the kids and let them express themselves and be patient while listening to them repeat the same thing they love ten times in a row. And do not forget that sometimes kids are just misbehaving to get their parents’ attention and time.
- Do not expect your preschooler to be perfect and try always to remember that they are little human beings, and it is the natural thing for them to make mistakes and learn from them.
- Repeat the thing you asked them to do once and twice and even three times and give them a chance to respond and always try to keep your calm.
- Teach them that there are consequences for their unacceptable behavior and for breaking the rules. You need to be consistent with implementing the rules and the consequences and not give up with continuous whining or meltdowns.
Putting the Foundations for Character Building
Your preschoolers’ brain is like a sponge that absorbs lots of information every day, so we need to give them the right thing for their brains to absorb. At this age, we put the foundations of morals and simple meanings about life. You are throwing the seeds that will need to be watered in the following years until you see the flowers start to blossom. And one of the fundamental ways to do so is to read to them at this age.
Practical tips for character building
- Set a good example: Preschoolers are imitators. If they see you lie, they are going to lie. If they see you handle difficult situations with calmness and patience, they will learn to handle situations and problems the same way. When they see you give charity, help the needy and be kind to others, they will do the same. When they see you treat them and others with respect, they will treat you and others with respect too.
- Talk to your preschooler a lot and listen to him. When you have frequent conversations with your preschooler, you will get to know him/her better, you will have more understanding of his/her character, and regular talks will strengthen the bonds between you.
- Choose the content that your preschooler will watch during his/her allowed screen time to be informative and educational content that enriches his learning pathway.
- Engage them in simple chores suitable for their age, like putting away their toys, wiping the table, and putting laundry in the washing machine. This way, you teach them essential life skills, build their self-confidence, and train them to become more independent individuals.
- Try to read to them moral stories daily.
Read to your preschooler
- Reading to your preschooler is like exploring a new treasure every day. Reading helps increase the bonding between you and your preschoolers; it builds their characters by learning further exciting information and new morals. Reading also boosts their vocabulary, cognitive and linguistic skills, and simple logical thinking. It improves their imagination, their decision-making, and problem-solving skills. It is one of the most important, influential, and loved tools for learning and discovering the world. Read every day, read every good story and every useful topic.
Physical activity and gross motor development
Adequate physical activity for preschoolers contributes to their gross motor skills development and psychological well-being. Try to get them physically active every day by putting into your daily routine exercising time and enrolling them, if possible, into a sports program they would like to practice. This will not only build their bodies into healthy and fit bodies, but also by that you raise a confident, smart, and happy child.
Ideas for indoor and outdoor exercising activities
- You can take your preschooler outside for a walk or a run or a bicycle ride.
- You can take them to a nearby playground, where they can become active and have fun at the same time.
- Play simply with the ball and have some fun together. In addition to the fun, playing with the ball also enhances gross motor skills, coordination, and concentration.
- If you cannot take your preschooler outside for any reason, you can always exercise inside your home. You can jump, skip, or run-in place for a certain number of minutes that you choose together. You can also watch together a workout video for kids and follow the moves, or you can do some rope jumping.
Look after yourself
You may wonder what this title has to do in parenting for preschoolers’ article, but it is an essential tip in your parenting life. Parenting in general and parenting a preschooler, in particular, may often be overwhelming. If you did not prioritize looking after yourself well, it would not be easy to give them the care, love, and patience they need.
Practical tips for self-care
- It would be best if you allowed some time for yourself daily to relax.
- Give yourself time every day, at least for 15 minutes, to do something you enjoy doing. For example, read a book you like, go for a walk or go to the gym.
- Eat healthy food, drink enough water, and do some exercise daily; this will make you feel better physically and mentally.
- Try to get enough sleep every night. Less sleep will make you tired, exhausted, and unable to be the best parent you can.
- Get support from family and friends when you need it.
Enjoy this stage, help your preschoolers surf through it happily, enjoying every bit of it while taking its treasures and making their very first vivid, happy memories of their lives. Until they arrive at the shore of their next fantastic stage in their journey, the school age stage.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, et al. Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8. Edited by Heather Breiner et. al., National Academies Press (US), 21 November 2016. doi:10.17226/21868.
 Potter, Latifah J., et al. “The 5 Love Languages of Children.” (2020).
 Saparahayuningsih, Sri, and Badeni Badeni. “Improving Children’s Fine Motor Skills through Pencil Skills.” International Conference on Educational Sciences and Teacher Profession (ICETeP 2018). Atlantis Press, 2019.
 Lillard, Angeline, Ashley M. Pinkham, and Eric Smith. “Pretend play and cognitive development.” (2011).
Porzio-Drummond, Renata. “‘Help, Not Punishment’: Moving on from Physical Punishment of Children.” Children Australia, vol. 40, no. 1, 2015, pp. 43–57., doi:10.1017/cha.2014.47.
Massaro, Dominic W. “Reading Aloud to Children: Benefits and Implications for Acquiring Literacy Before Schooling Begins.” The American journal of psychology vol. 130,1 (2017): 63-72. doi:10.5406/amerjpsyc.130.1.0063
 Figueroa, Roger, and Ruopeng An. “Motor Skill Competence and Physical Activity in Preschoolers: A Review.” Maternal and child health journal vol. 21,1 (2017): 136-146. doi:10.1007/s10995-016-2102-1
 Liu, Mingli et al. “How Does Physical Activity Intervention Improve Self-Esteem and Self-Concept in Children and Adolescents? Evidence from a Meta-Analysis.” PloS one vol. 10,8 e0134804. 4 Aug. 2015, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134804