Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tips for handling the three-year-old


1. Keep a regular routine, even though children of this age may fight against it at times. The routine provides security for children. Warn children in advance of any transition: "In five minutes we will finish reading and then we will have a snack."

2. Provide reassuring repetition. Sing familiar songs and read favorite books as many times as the child likes. Repetition provides comfort and security, which is especially valuable when children are in the troublesome three-and-a-half stage.

3. Save videos and television for occasional use. Sitting in front of the television takes away from the time available for children to work on more important skills. Three-year-olds need to spend most of their time developing their motor skills by running and playing outside, as well as spending time inside painting, coloring, building with blocks, singing, and pretending.

4. Learn transition tricks. Children have difficulty moving from one activity to another, so learn a number of transition tricks. Use puppets, ask children to move like animals, or to pretend to be characters in favorite books as they move from one activity to another.

5. Give three-year-olds plenty of time for play as a part of your regular routine. Imagination is very strong in the three-year-old, and the joy of discovering friendship means that playtime is one of the most important times of the day for children of this age. While three-year-olds share better than twos, they still have trouble sometimes. Expect sharing problems, and help the children continue their play.

6. Encourage three-year-olds to use words to talk about their sharing problems. Teach the children to ask if they can use something, and to say, "When I am finished." Show them ways of trading toys and of offering similar toys.

7. Silly clowning is best handled by guiding children into similar (but more positive) activities. Sometimes clowning takes the form of running around. Direct children into simple running games: "run and jump over this pillow." If the clowning takes the form of language play, introduce simple rhymes and songs. Especially good are songs that involve both whispering and shouting.

8. Help children who are being left out by making the rule, "You can't say you can't play." Help the child and the group find play roles for everyone who wants to play.

9. Speak positively to threes. Tell them what you want them to do, rather than what you don't want. Distracting children to another activity still works well with this age and can help prevent problems.

11. Handle fears sensitively. Give children your support. Reassure them about the difference between real and pretend, and remind them that you will be there to take care of them. Ask a child what helps when they are scared, and (if possible) let them do any of these things. This helps the child develop his own ways of coping.

12. If a child still uses a security object, allow her to bring it to child care. Blankets, stuffed animals, and special toys all provide comfort for children. Don’t ask children to share these special objects.

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