Preschooler Predisposition

Making predictions when it comes to kids is part of the job of a parent. Do you predict that today serving grilled cheese sandwiches will be met with glee or disappointment? Do you predict that having to make a quick trip to the store will be met with delight or dread by your preschool child? Depending on the age and stage of your child, your prediction may change. What is acceptable to one child may not be well accepted for another child, even in the same family.

Parents with a child who is three or four years of age will soon experience the preschool years. A time of excitement for some children and a time of worry or anticipation for others. A few factors, including temperament, interaction with other children or siblings, and the network of family support, will all impact how children respond.

Most children in this preschool age range have developed both fine and gross motor skills and enjoy reading and talking with others. Some parents will describe their preschooler as a chatterbox. Social skills are developing, and children often cue parents as to how they are feeling through their behavior. These parents can usually predict how their child may respond to any new situation. You may have seen the preschool child who is so nervous and fearful who may hide behind their parent hoping they can hop back into the car and return home to play and forget the school experience. Then there is the other child who bounds out of the car toward the school door, not waiting for anyone to direct them to the right classroom, only to find a room full of toys and other children just waiting for the class to begin.

Learning to help a distractable child to focus as they navigate the new preschool environment or assisting an intense child who may talk loudly to use an indoor voice will be some of the challenges parents face during the preschool years.

The Centers For Disease Control has a great child development resource parents may find very helpful! In addition, The Science of Parenting team is exploring the relationship between child temperament and growth and development milestones in this season of the podcast. Be sure to check out the preschool resources available at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Still trying to convince him preschool is FUN!!!!!

Preschool. End of September. We are all comfortable and happy when we start off to preschool right? The transition is now complete.

Umm not really. There is still fussing over shoes, whining over show-n-tell and dragging feet at the car door. You think to yourself, “Am I the only parent still struggling to get my child comfortable with starting preschool?” or “Why does everyone else’s child bound happily in the front door while I have to carry mine in?”

Guess what? You are not alone! Every child transitions or has a comfort level for beginnings, at a different rate. In fact, it is likely that by the time your child gets comfortable, there may still be others that haven’t completed the process. Children adjust to new situations (like starting preschool) based on their own individual temperament. And, if you really think about it, you may even recognize some of your own uncomfortable apprehensions in the face of your child (they got their temperament from you!).

As we think about trying to help our children through new situations it is most important to continually think about how it seems from their point of view. They have never been to preschool before, and each DAY is literally a NEW day to them. Yes, they may have been there for 2-3 weeks already but now it’s colder, they have more things to pack in their back pack, more items to remember, the building looks different when it is surrounded by brown & not green, their friends may be louder as they have become comfortable, it’s ALWAYS a NEW DAY. And with newness comes apprehension and uncomfortable feelings. Real feelings we can’t ignore.

Each time we remember to appreciate or acknowledge the apprehension our child feels,  instead of becoming frustrated by it we are able to show our child that we ‘understand’. We may not be able to help our child alleviate the apprehension to newness but we can ‘acknowledge it’ and try to ‘understand’. Those two things alone may help increase your child’s comfort level.

What are some ways that you have shown appreciation for or acknowledged your child’s apprehension? What happened when you did? What are some techniques that you have done to help your child feel more comfortable in uncertain situations? Share your ideas with us!

Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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