3. Sharing toys
“Sharing is one of the hardest concepts for a baby or young child to understand, and they really don’t grasp this understanding until after the preschool years,” Susan says.
She explains that children are not being antisocial if they can’t share, but rather it is about how they see the possessions which are important to them.
As parents we can explain sharing and really focus more on the outcomes of not sharing, for example, that their friend who has come over to a play will feel sad if they can’t play with the toys and join in the fun together.
Susan suggests that following through on turn taking can be helpful. Relay to your child that they can have a turn for five minutes and then it is their friends turn while explaining that this way we all get to play with something you love.
4. Switching activities
Susan emphasises that when it comes to changing activities, the home is very different to an early learning setting.
She recommends to first acknowledge that moving on from a much-loved activity might be hard for your child but giving them an understanding of what will be happening next might help.
For example, it will help understanding if you explain to your child that they need to come with you to pick up from school, but afterwards they will come back and continue their activity.
Susan also said that a countdown system may work, or introducing a visual first, then chart using photographs of your children doing different routines from the day like brushing teeth or bath time. Start by using photo cards to show what comes first and then next. Talk with your child about the order and position the cards together to tell the sequence. This supports your child to share in the decision making about when they do what.
Very young children are interested in time and clocks, so explaining that they have 10 minutes and then five minutes can be a useful strategy and is great if you can use the face of a large clock to actually show time.
“Recognising that, if your child is still struggling in the moment, distraction is a great tool for some children,” Susan says.
5. Teaching self-regulation and positive behaviour
“Children only really need to know what behaviours are expected of them. They tend to push the boundaries when they don’t understand what those boundaries are,” Susan says.
Susan says as a parent we can best help by supporting our children:
- to know what behaviour is appropriate, whether it’s at home, a friend’s house, early learning, preschool or school
- to manage their own behaviour and develop important skills like the ability to get along well with others
- to learn to understand, manage and express their feelings.
Susan explained that it’s good to keep in mind that different kinds of challenging behaviours are normal at different stages of development.
For example, outbursts are very common in toddlers and preschoolers, because at this age children have strong feelings and not enough words to communicate them.
By giving those actions words we can help support children to understand their feelings which may lead to being able to express them verbally instead of through angry actions.
You may like to introduce visual images of feelings to help discussion with your child around how they may be feeling and what makes them feel this way, while talking about what you can do together to help these feelings such as a quiet time, a cuddle or maybe reading a book.