Preschoolers' behaviours and emotions

After their third birthday, your child begins the transition from babyhood into childhood.

Your child will become more independent and insist they don’t want your help. They’ll even find being apart from you easier if it’s a place they know well. They begin to learn how to share and get along with others. Children this age love to play and be active, using their wild imaginations to create make-believe scenarios.

Set reasonable limits

Your child needs you to set firm but reasonable limits. These limits offer security and protection from getting overwhelmed by too much responsibility before she or he is ready.

It’s easy to forget that young children are still trying to learn many things that we take for granted, such as understanding what is said to them. For example, you might think your child is simply not listening to you, but he or she may just be trying to figure out what someone said five minutes ago.

Young children are very interested in the world around them. This means that they often get distracted.

Managing thoughts and feelings

Some tips for helping your child learn to manage their thoughts and feelings include:

  • Always keep in mind that children learn from what you do, so be a positive role model.
  • Show your child how you feel about their behaviour.
  • Give your child positive feedback for behaviour that you approve of.
  • Kneel or squat down next to your child when you are talking to her or him.
  • Keep promises.
  • Reduce the chance of your child damaging valuable objects through their exploration by putting them out of reach.
  • Keep instructions simple and positive.
  • Encourage your child to contribute to family life, letting him or her do some simple chores.
  • Maintain a sense of humour.

Thinking about others

When you start to introduce the concept of feelings to your child, they begin to manage their own emotions. By identifying different emotions (happy, angry, sad, hurt), they can better understand how they feel and how they make others feel.

It’s important you show your child that you care about others, and that they should too. You can let them help around the house and feed the family pet to help them understand responsibility and respect.

At three to four years of age you can also introduce the concept of sharing with your child. Any younger and they may not understand why you are taking their things!