In order to relate to and educate children, it is important that we get to know them and understand their needs and motivations. There are individual aspects, characteristics, tastes, and difficulties, specific to each child and others that are part of the evolutionary period in which they are. To the extent that parents know these characteristics, they can normalize some age-specific situations or realize that others require more attention. One of the most important milestones of this stage is the incorporation of the child into the school system, which will mean numerous changes in the child’s life.
Physical and motor development
During the years of play, children lose weight and grow, and the baby’s fat turns into muscle. Many of the differential characteristics of the young child are modified, the prominent belly disappears, the face is no longer so rounded, the extremities are lengthened and the dimensions of the head become more proportional with respect to the rest of the body. The center of gravity moves from the sternum to the navel, which allows it to develop numerous motor skills that will be very useful to it, since they have an important role in games, and these in turn are what allow the little one correct socialization.
Most of the games and activities that take place during this period are accompanied by physical movement. The motor skills of children increase considerably at this age due to the combination of brain maturation, motivation and practice, since most games and activities that are carried out in this period are accompanied by an important physical movement.
Another of the internal changes that will affect the child’s external development begins after the first year of life. The proliferation of neurons increases the growth of the brain, and myelination occurs. Myelin is a coating that covers the axons and accelerates the transmission of nerve impulses between neurons. Although the most notable effects of this are more visible during early childhood, myelination continues for a longer period of time.
Myelination is an essential process for fast and complex communication between neurons. From three to six years old, myelination occurs in the areas of the brain dedicated to memory and reflection. Due to this process, the child can act more and more reflectively and not always allowing herself to be driven by her impulses, as happened in previous stages.
On a practical level, the cognitive development that occurs at this age involves numerous changes. Cognitive development that occurs between 2 and 4 years of age is called preoperative thinking. Pre-operational thinking has four fundamental characteristics.
Focus: is the tendency to focus on one aspect of the situation while ignoring the rest. For example, the child sees her father as dad and is not able to perceive her in any of her other roles: brother, son, etc. The self-centeredness by which this stage is characterized causes children of this age to focus on the aspects of things that are related to them (as this phase approaches the end of this stage, it expands). It is usual that, especially in the first years, we observe that the minor has difficulties to put himself in the other’s place. As empathic ability develops progressively, it is a good time to start this important learning.
Pay attention to appearance: at this stage, things are what they seem. For example, if there are two children of different height, they will interpret that the tallest is the oldest, excluding other attributes, which can sometimes be a conflict when an adult tries to understand higher concepts.
Static reasoning: they perceive changes as sudden and global. For example, they perceive the difference between the things that a four-year-old can do and those that a five-year-old can do, these changes from the day of her birthday. So you can refuse to do things that until the day before you did without difficulty, claiming for example that five-year-olds do not play on the swings.
Irreversibility: They have a hard time believing that many of the things that were done can be undone. For example, if the mother puts cheese on the sandwich and the child does not like it, the child will reject it without the idea of removing it and possibly unintentionally when the mother removes it in front of him. She needs a new snack or that the mother removes the cheese without her seeing it.
It is important to keep in mind that although there are limitations in children derived from the development process, there is significant individual variability.
The child of this age strives to put things in order and progressively achieves better results. She likes to help with household chores. Regarding autonomy, you need adult supervision for most tasks such as brushing your teeth or showering, but you can progressively carry out some of the steps that compose them. They can lather or dry on their own and have the adult go over hard-to-reach places.
At this age, the child can already create imaginary playmates that will add to her real friendships. Among her favorite games are the dramatization and role-playing with other children. Also those of sensorimotor practice (physical activity) that you enjoy simply for the sensations they cause. At this age, the child can already imagine without activity, so she is able to create imaginary playmates that will add to her real friends. She understands the need to share toys and puts them into practice more frequently as she turns years.
Sometimes, the search for prominence is carried out in an inappropriate way, bypassing the rules or ignoring the adult’s instructions. She begins to know the difference between present and past and gradually tolerates the need to postpone the satisfaction of desires. Adequate emotional regulation and greater tolerance for frustration will help achieve this goal.
Children are very observant and many of the advances come from modeling significant people. Children copy what they see, whether it is the adult’s intention or not. If the attention, dedication, and effort of the adult to put themselves in their place are added to this observation learning, the child’s learning increases qualitatively and quantitatively.
Other ways that parents can actively guide their development are:
Presenting challenges: they can help you to gradually face small challenges, for which you have to work harder or for a longer time, since frustration is part of everyone’s life and helps to accept that you cannot always achieve what you want is desired.
Offering help, without taking care of everything: providing instruction or guidance, always depending on the child’s real needs. Stimulating motivation. Adapting the demands to the current characteristics of the child. It is important to set appropriate goals so that you can experience success as you exceed the objectives. Showing her the consequences that her actions have on others. Encouraging you to interact with other children.