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NYS Parent Guide

48-60 Months: Growth and Development

You and Your Fabulous Four-Year-Old

Nurturing Your Child

Nurturing Your Child

Your child is starting to see himself as a person who is part of a family, culture, neighborhood and wider community. That is called having a “sense of self.” You are his main model and support as he figures out his place in the world.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Be There! Let him know you will be there when he needs help. Stay available and show true interest in new relationships he forms. Take time each day to talk through his adventures and challenges and his feelings about them!
  • Help him recognize and deal with feelings. For example, you might say: “You seem to be scared or worried about something. Can you tell me about it?” Then talk about the cause of the feeling and how your child might handle it: “Oh, you don’t want to have a shot today at the doctor’s office? That can be scary, but we need shots to keep us healthy. We have shots to keep us healthy. Let’s figure out a way to make it less scary for you… how about holding my hand and squeezing it and together we will say ‘wheezy, squeezy, toasted cheesy’?”
  • Talk about the feelings of characters in books you read together. Connect what is happening in the story to your child’s feelings. Talk about how your child might feel in a similar situation and what he might do.
  • Use creativity to teach about feelings. Use drawing and painting, pretend play, and dancing and moving to express and talk about feelings while having fun together.
  • Talk about what others might be feeling (empathy). Helping your child to understand another person’s perspective will help him build strong caring relationships throughout his life.
  • Check yourself! Your little one needs to feel supported, loved and safe in dealing with both positive and negative feelings and behaviors. Model the behaviors you want your preschooler to use. If you generally manage your emotions and behaviors in a positive way, your little one will more likely do the same.
  • “Show and teach” the values you want your child to have. Model and talk about values: “Thank you for picking up the trucks without my even asking; that’s being responsible.” “Your teacher told me that you were a great helper and listener today; that’s good cooperation and respect.”
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Did you know

Loving and responsive parenting helps children to see the world in a positive way and to expect that relationships with others will be rewarding. Children who display high levels of social competence typically enjoy parent-child relationships characterized by positive and agreeable interactions and acceptance (COHN, PATTERSON, & CHRISTOPOULOUS, 1991).