Your Preschooler: 3 years 6 months

Is there anything more frustrating than watching your child dissect her dinner and then barely eat a mouthful? Don't despair! Picky eating is a common aspect of behaviour.

Picky, picky
At this age, your child really does have sensitive taste buds, and many preschoolers won’t accept a new food until they’ve been exposed to it more than 10 times!

Experts say that if we offer good food choices and respect our children’s appetites, they will gradually expand their diets. In the meantime, getting your child involved in meal-planning might make her more likely to eat what you make. Bonus: it’s one less decision for you to make!

Rev those motor skills
Preschoolers are driven to hone their gross motor skills. When you encourage active play, you’re helping your child develop muscle strength and coordination — and you’ll have loads of fun along the way. Here are some easy activities:

• Throwing and catching games with balls of all sizes (or wet sponges in the summer!).
• Set up a board a foot or so off the ground on crates and help him “walk the plank.”
• Put on some music with a good beat and dance together.
• Play follow the leader. Slide like speed skaters, wiggle on your bums, slither on your tummies like snakes, take giant steps… let your imagination lead you!
• Explore all the variations on running and walking together: skipping, galloping, stomping and tip-toeing.

Get ready to read
If you’re spending time reading books with your child, you’ve already taken the most important step in helping her become a lifelong reader. When you’re reading together, help her realize that stories are made of words that are made of letters. Point out the words as you read them or ask her to find a letter on the page for you. You can also encourage her to “write” a shopping list and then “read” it back to you. Songs, rhymes and tongue twisters are also great ways to help your child learn about the structure and sounds of words.

Discipline for preschoolers
You might have a persistent three-year-old who just won’t take no for an answer. Or one who doesn’t always listen as well as you’d like. Almost every parent has heard of time outs, and many use them as a disciplinary tool. But here’s something you may not know: Time outs are most helpful not when used as a punishment, but as a way to defuse tense situations so kids — and parents — can calm down.

Teeth talk
Brushing another person’s teeth isn’t the easiest job in the world. By the time kids hit the preschool years, they’re ready to start learning to do it themselves. But they still need some help from their parents.

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