Family Development Fact Sheet Call your county Extension office for more information The preschool years are exciting times for children. Each day preschoolers discover more and more about themselves and their world. During these years children gain new skills, abilities and knowledge.
This factsheet will help you understand preschool children. It 9s important to remember that the information in this factsheet is only a guide. Children grow and develop at their own rates.
Friendships Preschoolers are becoming more cadult-like d in their physical appearance. This may be why adults often expect grown-up behavior from their children. Still, preschoolers aren 9t adults, and their behavior shows it.
For instance, preschoolers play with friends, but they can 9t play very long together without conflicts. Playtime often ends with tears or fights. Young preschoolers may become involved in associative play.
Two or three children use the same toys and equipment. They join in the same games, but they do their own thing. At other times, they may be involved in more advanced cooperative play.
Children share toys, organize games and make friends. At this age, friendships often don 9t last long. Friendships are based on toys, children 9s physical characteristics and where children live.
The answer to cWhy is ... more. less.
Johnny your friend? d may be, cHe lives next door and has a new swing set. d Four and five-year-olds begin to develop best friends. Good friends are often the same sex and similar in age. Preschoolers also like children who share common interests.<br><br> Even among older children, however, friendships change over time. Children 9s play Parents and other adults want children to play cnicely d with other children. They 9re pleased when children share their toys and help others.<br><br> But it 9s hard for preschool children to play cooperatively, share and help. Children can 9t always act in positive social ways because they 9re egocentric. They 9re not able to see things from the viewpoint of an adult or another child.<br><br> They can 9t imagine how a person may feel or think. They haven 9t had enough social experiences. They haven 9t matured enough to cput themselves in the shoes d of another person.<br><br> They 9re only aware of their own feelings or thoughts. For example, your preshooler grabs a toy from his 18-month-old sister. When she starts to cry, he looks at her with surprise!<br><br> He 9s happy because he wanted the toy and now he has it. He can 9t put himself in the place of his little sister. He doesn 9t understand her sadness or anger.<br><br> He doesn 9t realize that his behavior has caused her to feel sad or angry. The 3, 4 and 5 Year-Old Child: Changes in Social Behavior Visit our website: ceinfo.unh.edu UNH Cooperative Extension programs and policies are consistent with pertinent Federal and State laws and regulations on non-discrimination regarding age, color, handicap, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veterans sta tus. Here is another example of children 9s egocentrism.<br><br> Maria, who is four years old, wants to help mix the cookie batter. She runs to the table, climbs on a chair and begins to stir. On her way to the table, she knocks over her 19-month-old brother, Nicholas.<br><br> Nicholas begins to cry. Maria continues to stir, not noticing her brother 9s tears. Maria 9s dad says, cMaria, you knocked Nick down.<br><br> How would you feel if he knocked you down? d Maria looks ar her dad briefly. Then she continues to stir the cookie batter. Many adults would be angry or astonished by Maria 9s behavior.<br><br> But Maria is acting normally for her age. Maria has little or no understanding of how her brother is feeling. She only knows that she 9s happy, and she 9s only thinking about stirring the cookie batter.<br><br> Maria doesn 9t understand the difference between right and wrong. Parents may spend time teaching their children to cooperate, help, share, and be good, but children can 9t always behave in those ways until they 9re developmentally old enough. Here are some ways adults can help children to learn these behaviors.<br><br> "Ask your child to talk about her feelings concerning other children 9s acts. For example, cHow did you feel when Jimmy knocked over your blocks? Were you angry or sad? d "Tell your child how his behavior affected another child.<br><br> For instance, cWhen you knocked your brotherdown, he felt angry. He also hurt his arm. Her was feeling pain. d "Talk about the similarities and differences between your child 9s feelings and the feelings of others.<br><br> For example, cYou were excited and happy about playing in the sand box, but Kathy was sad. She wantedto play with her dolls d or cBoth of your feel angry because you can 9t have ice cream cones. If you eat ice cream now, you won 9t have room for your lunch.<br><br> You can have ice cream for dessert. What flavor would you like then? d "Tell your child how her behavior has affected you. cHitting hurts.<br><br> It might hurt me or your brother or your friend. I can 9t allow you to hit me or anyone. When you 9re angry at me, you need to say, 8Daddy, I 9m angry at you. 9 Then we can talk about your feelings. d "Encourage your child to change a situation.<br><br> Let 9s take the example of Maria and her brother described above. Talk to both children about their feelings. Then say, cMaria, let 9s make some room on the chair for Nick.<br><br> Nick, you can help Ma r ia stir the cookie batter. I 9ll hold you so you won 9t fall. I can help you stir if you need help. d You 9re teaching both children how to solve a problem between two people.<br><br> "You 9re showing children that it 9s important to help others and share in an activity. Children who share, cooperate and help others tend to have parents who are warm, affectionate and nurturing. Sources: Papalia, D.E.<br><br> & Wendkos Olds, S. (1996). A Child 9s World: Infancy Through Adolescence.<br><br> McGraw Hill Inc. Galinsky, E. & David, J.<br><br> (1988). The Preschool Years. Ballantine.<br><br> Strengthen Your Family, Cooperative Extension Service, The Pennsylvania State University. Revised 4/02