Your child’s social development: 3 to 4 years
Now that your child no longer sees other children as potential rivals for their toys or your attention, they can now find real friends: they alternate with others and share toys, which makes the seasons a little quieter. However, his cooperation is not always secure and sometimes needs a little encouragement on your part.
Instead of just playing side by side with other children, your child now actively participates in other children in their games. As other children now develop an affection for your child, their self-esteem improves. But be aware of the downside: three-year-old children already have enough vocabulary to exclude children they don’t like from playing.
Disagreements with friends can still escalate into blunders. If your child does not calm down quickly, you should take it out of the room. Then use his growing ability to think logically and his language skills to explain that beating others is not acceptable. It may help to remember how sad it was because someone else hit it. Ask them to apologize, but only if they really understand what they did. Otherwise, his meaningless words will not control his anger at the next opportunity. You can also tell him how disappointed you are with his behavior; At this age, children begin to seek parental consent, and they simply change their behavior to please parents.
Keep certain limits
Experts recommend giving your child some freedom of choice, but at the same time, you should choose the alternatives carefully. It is very reassuring for children to know that the parents ultimately make the big, important decisions. Encourage them to make their own decisions by asking what they want to wear, eat, or play. It’s best to limit the selection to two or three things so that it doesn’t feel overwhelmed and frustrated by your inability to make a decision.
For a small child, your annoying threat that if you don’t come along immediately, you will leave it in the store is completely real and scary. Your child cannot yet tell the difference between fantasy and reality and can therefore be exposed to any fantastic fears very quickly. Using this method to control their behavior can also lead to worse results: your child totally ignores you or takes revenge with mean words or threats such as: "If you’re so mean, I’ll run away."
Encourage your child to play fantasy games (including imaginary playmates or human-like dolls) instead of insisting that these playmates are not real. In this way of playing, children understand how others view the world and learn about the possibilities and roles that are open to them in life. You can also promote communication with fantasies. For example, suggest that his teddy bear is real and can talk about why he doesn’t want to go outside to play. This can give you a better insight into your child’s feelings than if you asked him directly.
Your child is now very attentive to what the world expects from him. That is why his gender identity becomes even stronger at this age. It will pick up signals from TV shows, books, toys and other children’s comments; a single stupid comment from another boy that only sissies play with dolls can ruin his strong love for this activity. At this age, children often push their gender identity to the extreme: girls only wear party dresses and boys make a weapon out of anything they can get their hands on. This behavior will go away on its own, but you can help your child: e.g. comment the TV shows they watch together and tell him how many opportunities are open to everyone regardless of gender.
Our ideas & Advice for parents is a non-binding suggestion. We also recommend that you consult your pediatrician and contact them immediately if you have an urgent or medical problem.
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