Then, at about the age of three or four, something happens and it all changes. It is almost as if four-year-olds stop in their tracks, look around in bewilderment, and express this puzzlement by asking, "Why?"
It is estimated that a four-year-old asks a "why" question every two-and-a-half minutes! All that learning that was happening almost automatically suddenly requires effort.
|Leaving Child At Preschool For First Time|
These are the willful years in which children learn to share, delay gratification, calm themselves down, and develop impulse control. Children who do not learn these skills at this time can learn how to control their impulses later, but it is harder.
Some of you will know adults who never really learned much about impulse control either. You know, those so-called friends of yours who cut a swathe through any social settings, acting in ways that disregard the needs of others, failing to take on responsibility. During these years, children often feel as if they are Masters or Mistresses of the Universe. This means they can feel responsible for things they in reality had no influence over (e.g., upset parents, a poor month financially, a pet's ill health). Considerable time and effort needs to be put into explaining to them why events happen.
This "Master or Mistress of the Universe" feeling also means their tantrums assume great power. It is not a great thing to win every argument when you are three or four years old. Not only does that mean that your tantrums are more powerful than your parents, it also raises the frightening prospect that there is no one stronger to protect you. For parents, this means that you can't afford to crumple every time your child raises his voice. Do not give in to his every last whim.
There are some different priorities in parenting boys and girls at this time. Boys need to be helped to develop fine motor skills. Construction tasks, Lego, games and toys that involve twisting and turning all help boys build the skills that will eventually help them to write well. As the "fight/flight" response is stronger in boys, they often need help in containing their anger or tendency to run away if upset. This means applying the strong and compassionate parenting of "fierce friendship."
Girls often need assistance to develop their gross motor skills and to coordinate their large muscle groups. Physical play, ball throwing and catching are helpful, as are games like Twister and musical chairs. Allowing little girls to get dirty is also beneficial. It always seems that the girls who are too ladylike too early are at risk of becoming perfectionists.
Early primary school
Around the age of six, there is a second surge as the brain starts to use language in increasingly complex ways. The human brain attains 90 percent of its adult weight between four and eight years of age.
Aggression management is important at this time. Entering school every year are children with existing attachment and aggression problems, and they don't just grow out of these, they get worse - much worse! Girls exhibiting these problems at this age do worse long term than boys. For this reason, helping children to learn to avoid the triggers for anger and to not act inappropriately as a result of anger is really important.
Early primary school is a time of forming a peer group, Friendships may not always be based on deep, abiding similarities but nevertheless they can be loyal and emotionally intense attachments. Children may develop a "very best special friend,', and may experience grief if a special friend changes social groups or moves out of the area. Try to help your child have a few different playmates and keep building a sense of belonging to family.
The Passive Resisters' withdrawal
Passive Resisters who don't settle into school can show this by separation anxiety or by being extremely quiet. Watch out for these early warning signs and discuss with teachers strategies for engaging them and giving them a sense of success.
Anxieties and worries can also invade children's lives. With their developing independence can come anxieties about dangers, death, and injury. Sometimes children will become reluctant to go to school.
Many bright children at this time decide that they are no good at school and say things like, "I'm no good at..." or "I suck at .... "Anxiety about their abilities can lead children to give up. It is very important to build positive attitudes about their abilities at this age.
It is difficult to love yourself if you are not first loved. The way we are loved early on forms a stamp on us that is as individual and unique as our fingerprints. It forms the way we react to life and the way we consider death. For many people, this fingerprint of love or abandonment shows up most vividly at times of ritual and gathering - Christmas, birthdays, Easter. This is why we often see conflicts and disappointments resurface at times that represent family closeness and love. The approach we take to major rituals and celebrations tells us much about ourselves. To find out more, you can check out Leaving Child At Preschool For First Time.