Early childhood often marks the first opportunity for young children to interact with each other. Between the ages of 3 and 5, kids are learning how to get along with each other, cooperate, share, and understand their feelings. Young children may be aggressive and act out when they are angry or don’t get what they want, but this is not bullying. Still, there are ways to help children.
Parents, school staff, and other adults can help young children develop skills for getting along with others in age-appropriate ways.
Model positive ways for young children to make friends. For example, practice pleasant ways that children can ask to join others in play and take turns in games. Coach older children to help reinforce these behaviors as well. Praise children for appropriate behavior. Help young children understand what behaviors are friendly.
Help young children learn the consequences of certain actions in terms they can understand. For example, say “if you don't share, other children may not want to play with you.” Encourage young children to tell an adult if they are treated in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, upset or unhappy, or if they witness other children being harmed.
Set clear rules for behavior and monitor children's interactions carefully. Step in quickly to stop aggressive behavior or redirect it before it occurs.
Use age-appropriate consequences for aggressive behavior. Young children should be encouraged to say "I'm sorry" whenever they hurt a peer, even accidentally. The apology should also be paired with action. For example, young children could help rebuild a knocked over block structure or replace a torn paper or crayons with new ones.
Bullying is a problem many children will face as they grow up. Watch the Good Birds Club with your child to begin a conversation about bullying.
Strategies for Weaning Your Child off His Pacifier
Encourage your child to trade his pacifier for a lovey or comforting toy, such as his favorite stuffed animal or blanket.
Cuddle up and read a story about giving up a pacifier. Talk about what happened in the story and why you might be reading it together. Ask your child to choose her favorite part.
Help your child wean off his pacifier by giving it to him less throughout the day. For instance, restrict the pacifier to nap and bedtime when it can help him feel safe and secure.
Offer your child simple rewards, such as a sticker or small toy, for not using the binky. Use positive encouragement such as, "I'm proud of you!" or "You are such a big kid now!" to make her feel good about her accomplishment.
Talk with your child about how he is a big kid now and explain that big kids don't use pacifiers. Help him put the pacifiers in a box. Decorate the box and give it away as a gift to a younger cousin or sibling who needs the pacifiers more than he does.
Help your child label and describe her emotions when experiencing something new, such as giving up her pacifier. Let her know that it's okay to feel upset or sad, but reassure her that she may also feel happy and proud after giving up her pacifier. Tell her it's okay to have all different kinds of feelings when experiencing something new!
Have fun creating a sticker chart with your child! Help him place a sticker on the calendar each day he goes without using the pacifier. At the end of the week, count how many stickers there are all together! Reward him with a small toy or book when he reaches a set number of stickers.
Encourage your child to leave her pacifier for the binky fairy. Help your child collect all her pacifiers and place them in a bag or box. Talk to your child about how the binky fairy will give the pacifiers to new babies who don't have any.
Help your child choose a specific time, such as a holiday or his next birthday, when he will put away his pacifier for good. Countdown to the deadline together. Plan to do something special together to celebrate the occasion!.
Make a milestone scrapbook with your child. Talk about all of the things he has accomplished as a big kid, such as getting a first haircut and learning to ride a tricycle. Talk about how he'll get to add another page to the scrapbook when he gives up his pacifier. Encourage him to draw a picture of his favorite pacifier to put in the book. Remind him of how proud you are of his accomplishments!
Throw a small celebration when your child gives up her pacifier. Celebrate the important milestone by inviting over friends and family while enjoying special activities and treats.
What's New at Two
Here are some things your child may be learning to do at two. Keep in mind that every child grows and develops at his own pace. If your child can't do something yet, encourage him to be patient. Praise him for giving it a try!
At 2-years-old, your child may be able to…
● Balance on each foot for one to two seconds
● Learn through the 5 senses (sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing)
● Jump backwards and sideways
● Do two-hand activities like folding and pasting Catch a large ball
● Make some decisions on his own
● Enjoy one-on-one adult interaction
● Show greater inquisitiveness
● Pretend or "make believe"
● Use the word "mine"
● Express a wider range of emotions
● Understand concepts of shape, color, and size
● Grasp spatial relationships (up, down, over, under, etc.)
● Speak more clearly
● Name familiar objects
● Make words plural
● Answer simple questions
Learning More at Three and Four
Here are some things that your three- or four-year-old might be learning to do. Keep in mind that every child grows and develops at his own pace. If your child can't do something yet, help her practice and praise her for giving it a try!
At 3- or 4-years old, your child may be able to…
● Stand on one foot unsteadily and balance for 2–3 seconds
● Walk backward, run at an even pace, and turn and stop with ease
● Ride a tricycle and pump his legs to swing
● Hold a crayon or pencil with his fingers rather than a fist
● Start to dress and undress himself
● Use her imagination in pretend play
● Tell personal stories and share experiences
● Play cooperatively with others at times
● Want to do things on his own
● Show early signs of empathy, such as trying to comfort others
● Talk about simple emotions
● Identify colors
● Do simple counting
● Invent, create ideas, make up stories
● Ask why and how
● Recite rhymes/songs
● Use full, but simple sentences
● Focus on single characteristics of items (e.g., the apple is red or the apple is round)