Your Preschooler: 3 years 9 months

Your little kid isn't so little anymore. They're likely developing important social mannerisms and also testing your patience with their listening skills.

Playing nice
At their best, playdates are win-win events. They help preschoolers develop social skills, and they give moms and dads a chance to socialize with other parents.

Yes — at this age, it’s a good idea for you to go along on playdates so you can help guide your child when needed (make sure you warn him that some rules might be different at his friend’s house!).

Listen up!
You’ve asked your child to put the markers away because you need to set the table for dinner. Three times! But he barely raises his eyes from his colouring book. You wonder, is my kid willfully ignoring me?

You may be surprised to hear that listening is a learned skill. It takes practise for kids to be able to tune out what they’re doing and tune in to your voice.

And have you heard about natural and logical consequences as behaviour tools?

In some situations, natural consequences make a lot of sense. If your child insists he doesn’t need a coat, let him head out without one (but bring it along just in case). When the cold wind hits him, he’ll ask for it and will have learned his lesson — without an “I told you so.”

On the other hand, with logical consequences, you tell your child what the results of his choice are. You might say, “If you don’t wear your helmet, your bike is staying in the garage,” or “If you’re not going to hold my hand, we’re not going to cross the street to go to the park.”

Off to school?
Some parents send their kids to preschool to help them get a handle on classroom routines, structured activities, and socializing with other children. But keep in mind that school readiness has little to do with knowing the letters and numbers. Physical and emotional readiness is much more valuable: Will he be able to manage dressing himself, using the bathroom and eating a packed lunch? Is he ready to cope with the separation from you? Are you reasonably confident that he’ll be able to play well with others and handle some short periods of sitting still and listening?

Playtime! Have a ball
It’s a fact: kids love balls. Pull out your whole stash — beach balls, soccer balls, tennis balls, ping-pong balls — and have some fun. Take them in the tub, outside, to the park, wherever you want. What games can you invent? Here’s one to get you started:

1. Pull out two different balls — maybe one soccer ball and a foam ball.
2. Try moving them across the room using only one part of the body (your hand, your bum, your nose!).
3. Once you’ve had some practice, have a race and see who’s fastest.

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