Preschool Parenting Tips


Preschoolers need loving reassurance and support. They have little control over their own lives and are too young to use problem-solving skills to work through situations. Common stressful situations include starting or changing day-care, starting preschool, the arrival of a new baby or family ember, being separated from a parent, being disciplined, and toilet training. Preschoolers also worry that they will be deserted or starve, and they may become fearful of strangers. Scary things, sickness, and the unknown also are stressful.

You will know that your child is suffering from too much stress if he has less energy than normal, is more irritable, has night terrors or nightmares, more frequent temper tantrums, becomes more clinging or demanding, or is crying more than usual.

What can you do? It is up to you to recognize warning signs of stress and help your child through the difficulty. Help your child to understand the situation. Explain what is going on in simple, reassuring language. Encourage your child to talk about his fears. He needs to learn to say things like,
"I don't like it when your dog barks," or "I'm afraid to go into that dark room.” Do not tell your child that his fears are silly; they are very real to him.

Ease his tension by offering understanding, support and plenty of affection. Holding and cuddling a young child will help to ease the stress. Finally, you can increase your child's sense of security by remaining calm during
times of difficulty.

When should you seek help? When you are unsuccessful in attempts to help your child, or when the problem is too much for you to handle, get professional help. Don't hesitate to ask for advice.

Helping Your School-Age Child (6 to 12) Life can be hard for a child between the ages of 6 and 12. A child has to deal with pressures at home and is learning to cope with a larger world that involvesschool and friends.

Common stressful situations include: having an unusual name, taking a test at school, feeling slow, ugly or smart, being pressured to make good grades, making new friends, feeling jealous, competing in games or with a brother or sister, arguments with parents or friends, not getting along with a teacher, being criticized, worrying about a changing body, being embarrassed, taking
on more chores, and being excluded from activities and friends.

You can tell when stress is getting to your child. He may withdraw, regress, and act like a younger child, wet his bed, develop sleep problems, grind his teeth, or develop speech problems. Children under stress also may seem to think and move slowly. Other signs include: difficulty atschool, stealing, lying, cheating, sadness, crying, fights, frequent falls, and accidents.

What can you do? The children who are best able to cope with stress are those who have supportive and understanding parents. Be there for your child. Try to understand what he is going through. Encourage him to talk things over, and help him to think through problems. He is beginning to
develop some problem-solving skills, although he needs help in this area.

Parents often add pressure to their child's life by pushing too hard. If problems seem to revolve around school, sit down with your child's teacher and work together to set realistic goals and standards for achievement. The problem may not be academic. Sometimes children are involved in too many different activities or may have taken on too many chores at home. On the other hand, an isolated child may benefit from being encouraged to participate in a group activity, such as a 4-H Club.

Your child will benefit from your affection, approval and positive reinforcement. Listen to him and help him to find solutions to his problem; this will teach him to manage stress in his own life.

When should you seek help? When your child is in trouble at school or has been reported for juvenile misbehaviour and the problem is beyond your parenting skills, seek help. Alternatively, when your child is "too perfect," this is a signal that the child is under stress and needs help. Teachers and counsellors offer sound advice to help school-agers through not-so-good times. This is a good time to introduce the family to the family council concept. The family council allows the family to discuss issues. The leadership is rotated and children have equal roles in the meetings. Together, the family finds solutions to the problems.

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