At three years old, your child will be less selfish than when she was two. It will also depend less on you, a sign that your sense of identity is stronger and more secure. Now he will play with other children, interacting instead of playing each one for himself. In the process, he will recognize that not everyone thinks the same way and that each of his playmates has many unique qualities, some pleasant and some not. You will also notice that you become closer to certain children and begin to develop friendships with them. As you create these friendships, you will discover that you also have special qualities that make you nice; a fundamental revelation that will boost your self-esteem.
There is more good news about your child’s development at this age: As you become more aware and responsive to the feelings and actions of others, you will gradually stop competing and learn to collaborate when playing with your friends. You will be able to take turns and share toys in small groups, even if you don’t always. Instead of snatching, crying, or yelling about something, many times you will ask for it in a polite way. As a result, you can expect less aggressive behavior and calmer gaming sessions. Three-year-olds are often able to resolve their own disputes by taking turns or exchanging toys.
However, especially in the beginning, you should encourage this type of collaboration. For example, you can suggest “use words” to deal with problems instead of acting violently. Also remind her that when two children share a toy, they both have equal turns. Suggest ways to come up with a simple solution when both children want the same toy, perhaps drawing during the first turn, or finding another toy or activity. This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try. Also, help him with the right words to describe his feelings and desires so that he is not frustrated. Above all, show him by example how to overcome conflict peacefully. If you have an explosive temperament, try to calm your reactions if your child is present. Otherwise, it will mimic your behavior when you feel under stress.
No matter what you do, however, there will be times when your child’s anger or frustration will become physical. When this happens, stop him from hurting others, and if he doesn’t calm down quickly, keep him away from other children. Talk about your feelings and try to determine why you feel so upset. Let her know that you understand and accept her feelings, but make it clear that physically attacking another child is not a good way to express these emotions.
Help him see the situation from the other child’s perspective by reminding him when someone once hit or yelled at him, and then suggest more peaceful ways to resolve conflict. Finally, once you understand what you did wrong; not before, ask him to apologize to the other child. However, simply saying “I’m sorry” may not help you correct your behavior; You also need to know why you are apologizing. You probably won’t understand immediately, but give it time; By the age of four, these explanations will begin to make sense.
In fact, the normal interests of three-year-olds will help keep discussions to a minimum. They spend most of their playtime in a fantasy activity, which tends to involve more collaboration than play focused on toys and games. You have probably seen your preschooler and peers enjoy assigning different roles to each and then playing elaborate pretend to play using imaginary or household objects. These types of games help them develop important social skills, such as waiting for turns, paying attention, communicating (through actions and expressions as well as words), and responding to mutual actions. There’s even another benefit: Because games that stimulate the imagination to allow children to play the role they want, including Batman, Wonder Woman, or Fairy Godmother, it also helps them explore more complex social ideas.
By looking at the role your child plays in pretend play, you will also see that she will begin to identify her own sex. While playing house, boys by nature adopt the role of fathers and girls, that of mothers, reflecting the differences they have discovered in their own families and around them. At this age, your son may admire her father, older siblings, or other children in the neighborhood, while her daughter will be drawn to the mother, older sisters, and other girls.
Research shows that few of the developmental and behavioral differences that commonly distinguish boys from girls are biologically determined. For example, the average preschool boy tends to be more aggressive, while girls are generally more expressive. However, most of the sex-related characteristics at this age are more likely to be determined by cultural and family influences. Even if both parents work and share family responsibilities equally, your child will find conventional male and female role models on television, magazines, books, billboards, and families of friends or neighbors. For example, your daughter may be motivated to play with dolls by commercials, gifts from well-meaning family members, and approval comments from adults and other children. Children are generally kept away from their wrists (although most like it in the early years) and guided to rough and grotesque games and sports. Often, the girl who likes rough games is called a “tomboy,” but boys who play this way are called rude or aggressive. Not surprisingly, children perceive the approval and disapproval of these labels and adjust their behavior to them. Therefore, when they enter kindergarten, the gender identity of the children is already well established.
Children at this age will often take this identification process to the extreme. Girls may insist on wearing dresses, nail polish, and makeup for school or for the playground. Children will be able to walk upright, be overly aggressive, and carry their favorite ball, bat, or truck wherever they go. This behavior reinforces your masculine or feminine sense.
As your child develops her own identity in these early years, she will experience the attitudes and behaviors of both sexes. There will seldom be a reason to discourage such impulses, except when the child resists or rejects certain standards firmly established by the culture. For example, if your son wants to wear dresses every day or your daughter just wants to wear shorts like his older brother, please allow this phase unless it is not suitable for a specific event. However, if you insist, discuss the issue with your pediatrician. Your child may imitate certain types of behavior that adults find sensual, such as flirting. If he is very dramatic and expressive, he may worry about these “provocative” looks and movements, but it is often just an adult way of looking at the situation, while the child is only playing and unaware of his actions. At this age, he has no adult sexual intent and his gestures are purely imitations of play, so don’t worry. However, if you could have been exposed to sexual acts, you should discuss it with your pediatrician, as it could be a sign of sexual abuse.
By age four, your child should have an active social life full of friends and even have a “best friend” (usually of the same sex, but not always). Ideally, you will have friends in the neighborhood or at your preschool, whom you see on a routine basis.
But what if your child is not enrolled in preschool and does not live near other family members? And what if the children in the neighborhood are older or younger than him? In these cases, you will want to organize play sessions with other preschool children. Activity programs in parks, playgrounds, and preschools provide excellent opportunities to meet other children.
Once your preschooler finds playmates she seems to be having fun with, she needs to take the initiative to nurture her relationships. Encourage him to invite those friends home. It is important for him to “show off” his home, family, and belongings to other children. This will help you establish a sense of pride in yourself. Coincidentally, to generate this pride, it is not necessary that your home be luxurious or full of expensive toys; It just needs to be a warm and welcoming place.
It is important to recognize that at this age your friends are not just playmates. They also actively influence your thinking and behavior. You will long to be like them, even when your own actions violate the rules and standards that you have taught yourself since birth. Now you will realize that there are other values and opinions than your own, and you may test this discovery by demanding things that you never allowed before; certain toys, food, clothing, or permits to watch certain television programs.
Don’t despair if your relationship with your child changes dramatically as a result of these new friends. For example, he may be rough with you for the first time in his life. When I tell him to do something he doesn’t want to do, he can