Did you know...?
- Children learn best from those they love
- Children learn fastest and best before they begin school
- Remedial efforts, if needed, are most effective when started early
- The day-to-day learning of young children is usually taken for granted, but is the foundation for later learning
While 3- and 4-year-olds still need plenty of parental help. Kids are typically able to do more than many of us think. Here's how you can encourage them:
- Expect more: Most people have a way of living up (or down) to expectations -- preschoolers included. Raise the bar and your child will probably stretch to meet it.
- Resist doing for them what they can do themselves: While it may be quicker and easier to do it yourself, it won't help to make your child more self-sufficient. Quick hint: Appeal to their sense of pride.
- Don't redo what they've done: If your child makes their bed, resist the urge to smooth the blankets. If they dress themselves in stripes and polka dots, compliment their "eclectic" style. Unless absolutely necessary, don't fix what your child accomplishes. They will notice and it may discourage them.
- Let them solve simple problems: If you see your child trying to assemble a toy or get a book from a shelf that they can reach if they stand on their stepstool, pause before racing over to help. Provided that they are safe, those moments when you don't rush in, when you give children a moment to solve things for themselves, those are the character-building moments. It's natural to want to make everything perfect, but if we do, we cheat kids of the chance to experience success.
- Praise is key: Especially if your child is not in a cooperative phase. Try to catch them being good. Kids repeat behaviors that get attention.
- Use sticker charts and rewards judiciously: If your child is always working for the reward, they won't learn the real reasons for doing things. Best bet: Reserve rewards for finite endeavors, such as potty training, but avoid offering them for everyday things, such as dressing himself or brushing his teeth.