A warm, stable, and responsive relationship is essential for a child’s development and well-being.
When you have this kind of relationship with your child, you feel safe and secure. A sense of security gives your child the confidence to explore the world and learn. And as your child explores the world, he learns to think, understand, communicate, behave, show emotions, and develop social skills.
Relationships with Preschoolers: What to Expect
At this age, your child is developing the confidence and self-esteem that he has developed since infancy and toddlerhood for many years. Your child is developing language, problem solving, and social skills. As a result, your relationship can change.
As your child’s ability to use and understand language develops, he will begin to have longer conversations. These conversations give you the opportunity to really listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings. When you do this, it sends the message that what your child thinks and says is important to you. This is great for your relationship with your child.
Your child may have many questions about the world about “what,” “why,” “where,” “who,” and “how.” Your child may also understand more complex explanations. When you take your child’s questions seriously and take the time to give real answers, it helps your child learn about the world as he grows and develops. It also increases your child’s confidence and safety in you. Your child may ask the same questions many times as he develops his understanding, so it’s important to be patient.
Preschoolers are getting better at understanding and using words to express emotions like “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” or “surprised.” And they can begin to understand that others also have this feeling. So, your child might say “I’m sorry” if they hit them accidentally or excited when it was their birthday. These developed emotional skills are good for your child’s relationship with you and others, now and in the future.
As your relationship develops and changes, you and your child will form your relationship. For example, your child’s temperament will affect the type of activities you enjoy together, or how you resolve differences of opinion. All relationships have their ups and downs. But if you work to maintain your relationship over time, your child will feel loved and safe.
A strong parent-child relationship is more than just having fun together. By adjusting your child’s feelings, complimenting him, and helping him find words for strong emotions, you can help him learn and develop.
Building Strong Relationships with Preschoolers: Tips
Children of all ages need parents and caregivers who are warm and responsive, caring for them, and made to feel safe. Here are ideas to help you continue to build this kind of relationship with your child.
- Give your child a lot of positive attention. This could mean taking the time to do your child’s favorite activities with them, for example, puzzles or Legos. Even briefly joining lets your child know that you’re interested in what you do and that you love spending time with them.
- Listen to your child. If you see your child feeling frustrated or upset, help him understand his emotions. For example, ‘I can see you’re frustrated with the riddle. How about I help you?’ Understanding emotions is an important part of self-regulation, which is important for all of your child’s relationships.
- Show that you are listening when your child speaks. Stop what you are doing, make eye contact, pay attention to your child’s body language, and use phrases like ‘Really?’, ‘Go ahead’ or ‘Then what happened?’
- Be patient with your child’s questions and encourage their interest. If your child asks a question you don’t know the answer to, you can search for it together online. Or you can visit the library to see some books on your child’s favorite topics.
- If your child asks you about a difficult topic, respond with simple language and short sentences that your child can understand. For example, ‘Grandma has passed away and we won’t see her again. I’m so sad.’ If you encourage open communication on difficult topics, your child learns that he can always talk to you.
- Play games together like ‘I Spy’ or simple board or card games. Turn-based games like these help your child learn to play cooperatively and get along with others. These skills are good for your child’s relationship with you and others.
- Read along. Reading regularly with your child creates a special time to bond. It also stimulates your child’s imagination and helps your child learn about the world.
- Distribute family meals regularly. Family meals can strengthen your family relationships and your child’s sense of belonging.
- Encourage your child to help you around the house, such as setting a table or storing clothes. This gives you the opportunity to spend time together and show your child that you trust responsibility. And homework helps your child feel “big” and good about himself.