Teasing is a fact of life, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. Most preschoolers’ teasing is calling names like “dummy,” and defining social groups by saying things like, “Go away, you can’t play with us!” About this age, your child really understands and is hurt by these kinds of words and attitudes. Even the gentle teasing of older kids and adults hurts. Almost three year olds don’t have the ability to laugh at themselves or see others have a laugh at their expense. They don’t have the vocabulary or fluency to answer back or to express their hurt.
Here are some ways you can help your child when she gets teased:
- Sympathize with your daughter— let her know you know it hurts to be teased.
- Teach her to ask for help— don’t expect her to be able to take teasing at this age. It is good for her to talk to an adult (you or her care provider) when the teasing becomes too much.
- Don’t retell her teasing experience—Retelling her experience in her presence only magnifies it in her mind. It may make her more timid and fearful.
- Don’t rescue too soon or too often— She may assume she cannot handle teasing and needs her parents’ presence to protect her. This will undermine her self confidence.
- Keep your cool—Listen to your child, comfort her, and redirect her to another activity. Not over-reacting has the best chance of minimizing the harm in having been teased.
- Parent’s presence— An adult’s presence will discourage teasing and bullying. Be available to redirect play or introduce a new activity when teasing threatens to break out.
When your child is the teaser:
At this age, your daughter notices everything and announces what she sees loudly. She may not mean to tease, she is just vocalizing differences she sees. She may have learned to tease another child so they run off crying instead of playing with a toy she wants. If your child has been teased by older children or adults, she may have picked up some really mean teasing. She is mimicking what she has heard and testing to see how others react.
Here are some things to do if your child is the teaser:
- Reduce the rivalry— She may be teasing because she wants more attention. Give her lots of attention when she is not teasing and show her how to help instead of tease. This will make her feel important and less likely to tease.
- Encourage empathy— Talk to her about how she would feel if someone said she was “funny looking” or called her “dummy.” Make sure your comments about others are positive and not negative.
- Make sure you don’t tease—Your daughter will be much less likely to tease others if she is not teased herself. Don’t joke about issues she is struggling with, like potty training. Calling her pet names in front of her friends can also hurt her feelings.
Your daughter’s overactive imagination can now create all kinds of monsters. Dark or semi-darkness can convince your child a common everyday object is a terrible creature.
Ways to help calm your child:
- Take her fear seriously. Never belittle her for being afraid.
- Skip the logic. Saying, “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” won’t help. She won’t believe your explanation anyway.
- See from your child’s point of view. From her angle something ordinary may look weird in the shadows.
- Reassure with light. A nightlight or light in the hallway can be calming.
- A happy bedtime routine. A routine that’s calming and happy, not tense, is helpful.
If your usually good sleeper wakes up suddenly, crying and clingy, especially in the last half of the night, a nightmare is the most likely reason. Something she heard or saw before bed could trigger a nightmare. Stress from being sick, separated from a parent, or big events also can trigger bad dreams.
Rather than start a habit of her crawling into your bed, it is better for you to go to her if she wakes up screaming. Telling her, “It’s only a dream,” will be no comfort at all. Hold her, rock her, or rub her back until she calms down. Follow your usual pre-bed routine: check the lights, soft toy, kiss, and say “night-night.” Your reassuring touch and voice will be the best help.
Some kids only have an occasional night time accident after being potty trained and other kids seem to have more frequent or regular problems with bed-wetting. It is more common for boys and for those more recently potty trained. Very deep sleep keeps some children from awakening in time to use the potty. A small bladder or a slowly developing central nervous system may be other causes. Bed-wetting seems to run in families. Bed-wetting usually stops on its own around 5-6 years of age.
What you should do:
- Don’t blame or shame her. She really cannot help it.
- Try limiting liquids after dinner.
- Continue to use pull-ups until she is dry a number of nights in a row.
- Use a mattress cover.
- Have clean sheets and pajamas ready to minimize the disruption of everyone’s sleep.
Preparing for Preschool
This is the continuation of our series of steps to prepare your child for preschool.
Practice Listening Skills
In preschool children must learn to sit still and listen. This is a skill you can be practicing with your child now. Ask her to sit still, close her eyes, and tell you all the different sounds she hears. Talk about what is making the sounds and where they are coming from.
Another listening skill practiced in preschool is listening and following a series of directions. You can be practicing this with your daughter now. Ask her to do a series of things like, take her dirty socks upstairs and put them in the hamper. Gradually increase the number of steps like, go to the bathroom, wash her hands, and come help set the table for dinner.
Games that help with these listening skills are: I spy, “I spy with my little eye something that is . . .round.” She must ask questions until she can guess what you see. Simon Says, only following the command if it is preceded with the words, “Simon Says.”
Is your child ready for preschool?
- Has she spent time away from you? She is better prepared if she has been cared for by a babysitter or a relative semi-regularly or if she has spent a weekend with grandma or a day with her aunt and cousins.
- Is she fairly independent? Is she potty trained? Can she wash her hands on her own?
- Can she work on projects on her own? Does she get engrossed in puzzles or arts and crafts? Encourage solo play while you prepare dinner. She should not require your constant attention during play.
- Is she ready to join group activities? Can she sit and enjoy library story time or participate in a tumbling class.
- Is she used to a regular schedule? She will feel more secure with the regular schedule in preschool if she knows each day at home has a regular rhythm of mealtimes, naps, and playtimes.
- Is she down to one afternoon nap?
If she is not yet ready for preschool, consider other options.
It is better to take more time to prepare your daughter, if she is not ready, than to have her develop a bad attitude about “school” before she even really starts.
- Plan quality time with you or a caregiver that is more scheduled and begin practicing skills necessary for success in preschool.
- Enroll her in some group activities like gym or swimming, toddler music, and library reading hour.
- If she is not physically ready for potty training or down to 1 nap/day, wait a little longer to start going to preschool.
Fresh Snack Ideas
- Cut cheese or lunch meat with a cookie cutter
- Spread peanut butter on a tortilla or chapatti instead of bread
- Mash fruit and mix with water and freeze as ice-pops
If your child does not yet have a tricycle, don’t delay getting one now. There are so many physical skills she learns in riding a trike and also lessons in time and space.
What kind of a tricycle should you buy?
- One where she sits upright, not where she leans back. Sitting up gives her a clear unobstructed view of where she is going. This helps her match what she sees with what she is doing.
- Buy a tricycle where her feet reach the pedals comfortably. Don’t try to economize and buy one she will “grow into.” If she is not comfortable, she won’t learn all she can from her tricycle experience. If her inside leg measures 17– 20 inches (42– 50 cm.) her front wheel diameter should be 12– 13 inches (30– 32 cm.) If she is shorter she may need a 10 inch (25 cm.) front wheel.
- Choose one with a wide wheel base in relation to its height so it is less likely to tip over.
Lessons she learns:
- She learns she has two different sides. This is a necessary skill for reading. She begins learning to sort out her two sides when she has to push first with one foot and then the other and when she has to shift her weight from one side to the other.
- She learns to organize directions in space. When she knows what up and down and right and left feel like in her body, she will more easily recognize it outside her body.
(If a child is not aware of the difference of her left and right sides, she will have more difficulty learning that we read from left to right. The difference between saw and was or the difference between b and d use the left-right and up-down understanding. You will be giving your child the foundational skills for reading by teaching her to ride a tricycle.)
- She learns lessons about time. She learns that she must shift from side-to-side at precise times. As she learns to ride smoothly, rhythmically, and efficiently, she is learning to organize her movements in time.
(In order to learn to spell efficiently we must learn to get the letters in the proper time sequence. One of the best first steps to learning to spell is learning to use our bodies in a proper sequence and rhythmically in time.
- Don’t try to teach her to name left and right yet. She can learn this much later. Right now help her learn the feel of shifting from left to right and how they work together.
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me this child and thank you for giving me the wisdom I need to deal with her ever-changing needs and interests. I want to be a good caretaker of this precious gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen