Parenting Tips for Preschoolers

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Your baby is growing fast and as you look back, you will be amazed on how smart and active your little one has become.

Physically, they are taller and bigger, more stable on their feet, they tend to be more loving and caring, and they have also learned to show empathy. Your child is more capable of expressing their feelings and emotions, dance and sing when they are happy, being grumpy when they are angry.

Furthermore, they are now more interested in learning and ready to have more fun. Here are some parenting tips to guide you with your preschooler’s growing needs.

1. Giving Your Preschooler a Healthy Food

As they say, “Health is Wealth”, well this is definitely true and for a growing child it is very important to give them a healthy and well-balanced meal.  A preschooler loves to play and do lots of exploring. They would need the energy and stamina to keep them active during playtime so providing the right nutrition is essential for proper growth and boost their immunity.  Giving your child three balanced meals and two healthy snacks is the best way to do this.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, they recommend between 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day depending on activity level and age[1]. Try as much to limit junk foods on your child’s snacks and encourage them to eat a variety of healthy food such as fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meat, grains and root crops.

What can you do to make your preschooler eat healthy food?

Eat together

Eat together and show your child that you are enjoying.  This will increase your child’s curiosity of the food you love and eventually they will try to eat them.

Be creative

Colorful and lively looking plate encourages your preschooler to eat more.  Try cutting the carrots into different shapes, use broccoli as trees and some fruits into eyes of a cat or bear.

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Funny Food Made Easy: Creative, Fun, & Healthy Breakfasts, Lunches, & Snacks
A nutritious and fun way of creating meals and snacks to help improve the eating habits

Let your child choose and help prepare the food

You can show your child how the food on their plate looked prior cooking.  Have them participate in mixing eggs, or adding a salt, or getting some ingredients from the fridge as it will make it more fun and inspire them to eat what they have made. 

Give your child complements

Complement your child for eating the right food.  Your little one would love to receive praise. Saying that you did great in eating fish or it was yummy you will grow healthy and strong will make them proud and motivated to eat the food you serve.

Be patient

Getting your child to eat healthy needs a lot of patience. You may not get them to eat the food you serve at all times but trying is not bad.  It may take a lot of time for your child to get used to it but keep on serving the right food and in the soon it could be their first choice to eat vegetables and other healthy snacks.

Avoid junk foods

Chips, candies and soft drinks are really nice but what benefit does a little child get from it? Junk foods are called junk because they have little benefit[2]. With the influence of other children around them, it may be hard to keep them away from junk foods but your influence may help them keep them away from it.

2. Letting Your Preschooler Have Plenty of Sleep

According to study, a child 3-5 years of age should get an average of 10-13 hours of sleep throughout the day[3].  A sufficient amount of sleep has several benefits to a growing child.  It helps them boost their immunity and easily recuperate from exhaustion in their daily activities.  In addition, children are likely to be in good-mood and more attentive when they get enough sleep.

What can you do to persuade your preschooler for bedtime?

Be active on daytime

 Running around, jumping, dancing and playing outdoors are some of the good ways to expend your child’s energy. When they feel tired they are likely to get some rest and take naps. 

Follow a routine

Your preschooler does not know what time it is and they do not know whether it is playtime or bedtime. Therefore, it is always a great idea to establish a nightly routine.  Some activities such as brushing teeth, cleaning-up, changing into pajamas, story-telling and kissing goodnight will give the cue that it is about bedtime and that they are going to sleep. This will alleviate the struggle on tucking your child on bed as they will be aware of what they should do next if you make the same routine.

Set the ambiance

A dim lit room, just right temperature, quiet and peaceful environment is one of the key on making them fall asleep.  If your child is a bit troubled or does not feel like being alone in their room, you may get one of their favorite cuddly toy to make them feel snuggly.  You can also play or sing them a soft lullaby to sleep making them comfortable and feeling safe.

Avoid using gadgets

Turn off the TV, and avoid using your computer, phone or tablet at least an hour before bedtime.  According to Sleep Foundation, “Children who use these devices at night often do not receive enough high-quality sleep and are more likely to feel tired the next day.”[4] It will greatly help your child sleep more peacefully if you take away all gadgets prior initiating their bed-time routine.

3. Letting Your Preschooler to Play and Have Fun

Nothing is more fun than playing games and exciting activities. It is the most interesting thing for a child and the best way to bond with your kids. Playing active games increases their physical strength hence, helping them develop their motor skills. On the other hand, board games and puzzles help them develop their cognitive skills.  Different activities help enhance your preschooler’s abilities in variety of ways such as eye and hand coordination, problem solving skills, social skills, creativity and many more.

Here are some classic games that you can play with your preschooler

Tag

Kids love to run and play a game of chase.  There are different versions of tag but the rules are almost the same.  Basically, one child will become “it” and chase the others lightly touching them and they become the next “it”. This game is really fun and exciting as your child develop their agility and dodging skills.  But do be careful as there may be chance of falling down when your child gets too excited and run fast.

Simon Says  

This game will improve your child’s physical coordination and enhance their listening skills. It can be played by two or more persons. The rules of the game are quite simple and easy.  You can assign yourself or an older kid as Simon and make a command to do some action by starting with the phrase “Simon says.”  You can make it trickier by making the command more complex like “do the opposite of” or making a silly action prior giving the command. 

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is a typical game for kids of all ages which can also be enjoyed by a toddler or a preschooler. It develops your child’s thinking and problem solving skills as they use their imagination to look for things or people. It also makes counting fun and the anticipation getting found out is thrilling.

Catch

A ball is a toy that can be found in almost everyone’s toy box. You probably have played this several times with your kids and this is game is never boring. Almost all sports involving a ball has of catch can develop your preschooler’s hand and eye coordination, agility and reflexes.

Toyrific Fling Catch Ball Set
Fun and easy to play for ages 3+. For use under adult supervision

Matching Game

Matching game can be played in variety of ways. You can use some cards, pictures or objects around you. In this game, your preschooler can learn to identify, classify and find similarities on objects or pictures. Matching and pairing can enhance your child’s memory, attention to details, and other cognitive skills. 

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Orchard Toys Farmyard Heads and Tails Game
Picture game of head and tails which encourages matching and memory skills

Puzzles

This is the perfect toy to increase your child’s imagination, creativity, concentration, patience, and problem solving skills. Puzzles in different forms, sizes and shapes are definitely fun and a great way to bond with your child. You can watch as he solve this puzzles by himself and assist when you think that he’s having a hard time.

Snake and Ladder

Rolling the dice and counting the steps up to reach the goal while sliding down when you stopped at the snake’s head. Snake and ladder is a board game that has easy to play and fun for kids. Your preschooler will enjoy the game while learning how to count and take turns.

4.      Attending School

Early childhood education is basically designed to combine learning and play[5]. At preschool age, they are in preparation for primary learning at school so you are your child’s first teacher. With your guidance, your preschooler can learn shapes, colors, numbers, letters and other things at home. It is not necessary but it is a good option to enroll your child at a preschool where they can enjoy the company of other kids, follow instructions, learn to socialize and interact with other people. In addition, studying together is actually more fun. 

How do I know if my child is ready for Preschool?

If they are able to separate from you

Separation anxiety is a common problem among preschoolers, especially when they are used to having you around. Leaving them at a nursery crying and making tantrums wouldn’t be of any help for you, and your child might be distressed the whole time. So instead of suddenly leaving your child at a preschool, you should first familiarize your child on the school they are going to attend to. Introduce them to their teachers and the adults around. Train your child to separate from you by leaving your child in other’s care for a short period of time. You should make them understand that you will not always be around and they should be able to ask others whenever they need help.

If they are comfortable with other people around

A school is a place where different kids go to learn and study.  Your child is expected to meet and socialize with other kids in his age who have different character and behavior plus you are not there for your child.  Your child could be a shy and nervous or an aggressive and energetic type of kid. It is important to teach your preschooler some social skills prior sending them to school.  You may let your child get used to playing with other kids in a playground or some play group. Moreover, since you won’t be there, your child should be able to communicate their needs to an adult either through words or their actions.  

If they are able to follow simple instructions

You know your child very well and you are able to assess if they can follow instructions.  There are different activities at preschool that needs your child’s attention and cooperation.  Of course, we cannot expect a preschooler to understand everything but they should at least know what to do if they are told to “sit down”, “listen up” and they can try to imitate the actions of their teacher.

If they are out of diaper

Some preschools may allow your kids to get enrolled even if they are not toilet trained however, it is best if you could get your child toilet trained prior attending school.  Accidents can happen so it is advisable to provide your child an additional pair of underwear and pants. Better prepare for your child’s need and it will keep them from the uncomfortable feeling and embarrassment.

5.      Self-Independence and Training of Your Preschooler

As your child grows older, their desire for independence also grows. Your preschooler might have instances when they refuse to accept help from time to time. This is actually a good sign that your baby is transforming to a big kid as they try to do things by themselves.

If you let your child do things on their own, they would develop their self-esteem as well as independence. Complementing your preschooler for the little things they can do by themselves make them feel capable and strong. If they make mistakes, please do not scold them or be angry instead, show them the way on how to do things right.

What are the things that a preschooler can do independently?

With proper guidance and training, your child can probably do these things on their own with little supervision. 

Proper self-care routine

Being independent usually starts with their daily routine. Some of it requires supervision but when you have trained them properly and they are fully capable, you will save a lot of energy and time in putting them to the same routine. Some of these are brushing of teeth, wearing of shoes, combing their hair, washing of hands, self-feeding, getting dressed, getting on the potty and the like.

Simple Chores

Training them to do simple chores will make them a responsible part of the family in the long run.  They can enjoy doing simple chores if you will add fun to it. As a preschooler, they can only do little things but do not underestimate these little things. If proper training was done, chores will be part of their routine and you can get a child who is able to do chores without being lazy and unwilling to help. Some of these may include putting snack wrappers in the trash, tidying up, folding clothes, setting up the dining table, wiping off dirt, helping in food preparation and things alike.

6.      Addressing Your Preschooler’s Worries and Problems

Crying, tantrums, irritability and anger, in most cases we treat these behaviors as problematic but why does a child do these? Children are in their best when they are happy, but they are tiresome in some way when they start to cry nonstop, shout or scream. Sometimes, we could not understand but once you identify what he was crying about and addressed his thing, they would calm down. 

Some preschooler’s are not very good at communicating but somehow you know your child and they have some way to communicate with you either through words or actions. Try to get to the bottom of it and address what was troubling them. Some of the typical cause for a child’s crying episode are hunger, fatigue, sleepiness, or they just want something.

7.      Discipline to Teach Your Preschooler and Not to Punish

Your child may misbehave for different reasons and in different ways. As a result, you ought to provide a disciplinary action in some way. You are probably wondering when to discipline a child and what approach is best for you. Discipline is a way of teaching your child to know what is right from wrong. If you could teach them proper discipline, they will have a solid foundation and will become a better person when they reach adulthood.

Misbehavior sometimes occur when they are uneasy about something or they are seeking attention which can be all be addressed. You are disciplining your child not because of their problem but for teaching them how to behave properly.

Why does a child misbehave?

To get attention

Many kids misbehave to get attention because it is very effective. When you are too busy to notice your child and they feel alone, they may resort to being naughty or bad. You may want to give them more attention by playing with them or constantly communicating. Give them your time and built your relationship with your child.

Uncontrolled emotion

Here goes tantrums. Tantrum is an explosion of a child’s frustrations and anger in the form of crying, screaming and even violent actions[6]. At preschool age, your child might be able to say or point out what angers them but they do not know how to vent their frustrations or how to control their anger so they just go into tantrums.

What you can do is to ignore these tantrums and get your child let it out while watching out for possible danger as they move around with violent motions. Another thing is to distract them with something else, like their favorite toy or pretend to see something interesting over here and there that might get their attention eventually forgetting what they are crying for. 

Needs and wants

One more reason for a kid’s misbehavior is unmet needs and wants. They might be trying to get your attention because they are hungry, sleepy or they are trying to do something independently but couldn’t get it right.

Testing the water

Children are naturally playful and naughty. They are indeed an explorer who is trying to get your reaction to something they do. They would even do it repeatedly to see how much the limit is and to find out what consequence or punishment corresponds to their actions. You have to respond to them with a consistent discipline and make them realize the negative effect of their actions.

How to respond to your child’s misbehavior

Keep your calm

The first thing you should do is to be calm. This could help you make better judgement and will prevent you from getting mad in response to your child’s behavior.

Keep your voice down

Yelling at a kid would make it worse so you should lower your voice and speak to your child gently while ask them what is making them unhappy.

                Connect with your child

Proper communication can lessen the stress of discipline and punishment.  Instead of punishing your child for a mistake, explain to them what was their wrong and tell them about the consequences therefore, teaching them what should have been done.      

8.      Final Thoughts

The best parenting tip I could give is to trust your instincts as a parent and show them your unconditional love. Certainly, your kids see you as their very own mommy/daddy, role model, teacher and favorite superhero. Take advantage of this and demonstrate your best behavior, show them respect the same way you wanted to be respected. Whatever you do for your child, you do it with love.


[1] “Energy In: Recommended Food & Drink Amounts for Children.” HealthyChildren.org, American Academy of Pediatrics, 13 Jan. 2020. Web

[2] “Word! Junk Food (for Kids) – Nemours KidsHealth.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, 1995-2021. Web.

[3] Hirshkowitz, Max, et al. “National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary.” Sleep health 1.1 (2015): 40-43.

[4] “National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Time Duration Recommendations: Methodology and Results Summary.” Sleep Health. Elsevier, 18 Feb. 2015. Web.

[5] Swartout-Corbeil, Deanna M. “Preschool.” Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, Advameg Inc., 2021.

[6] Davidson, Tish.“Tantrums” Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, Advameg Inc., 2021.

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Author

Vivian Perry

Vivian Perry

Mother of 3 kids. Enjoy reading parenting books and studied child care degree. Vivian loves to learn and write about parenting tips and help her kids to grow positively with grit mindset.

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