Realistic Behavioral Expectations
Children between the ages of 3 and 4 are growing at a rapid rate in all areas of development, are discovering new things daily, while also learning how to cope with new challenges. Additionally, they are in pursuit of autonomy, which can lead to behavioral issues that the adults in their lives often become frustrated with.
The problem comes in because most adults have unrealistic expectations of how 3- and 4-year old’s should behave. This is mainly based on the assumption by the adult that this rapid development will progress in only a positive behavioral direction. The fact is, as, with any growth, there will be new issues that present themselves and old issues that may still arise. Additionally, children’s behaviors are not consistent or predictable.
Knowing what the of age-appropriate behaviors for 3- and 4-year old’s are is essential to helping instill positive behaviors in them. At this age, because they are learning new things, 3- and 4-year old’s may become more defiant as they explore how far they can push limits. They may also become frustrated or anxious when trying new things because their motor skills are not as developed and their attempts at things may not go as planned. This can lead to behavior problems such as tantrums and defiance.
To assist them in making better behavior choices, its important that adults are calm, clear, and consistent. In the heat of a tantrum, it is often very difficult to remain calm, but this is vital. It is also important to be clear in the rules that are set and maintain consistency with this daily. Giving choices also helps children become more autonomous which will lead to more confidence. Catch them being good and reward positive behaviors.
In our Early Skillz program, our instructors understand how to reinforce proper development and behavior with little or no disciplinary action. This positive learning atmosphere makes learning and growing fun. Self-esteem also plays an important role in how well 3- and 4-year old’s learn and grow. Utilizing edutainment and communicating clear rules and directions set the tone for each class. The instructors also connect with each student to create a warm, positive, and nurturing environment.
And, as with any well-rounded children’s program, the teaching partnership between parent and instructor is of the utmost importance. Creating consistency between what takes place in the academy school and at home, makes for an easier transition through this rapid growth period for 3- and 4-year old’s.
Remember, growth is exciting, but the progress is often followed by some backtracking…that is just part of growing up.
To quote Ross A. Thompson, Ph.D., a child-development researcher, and professor of psychology at the University of California, “The part of a child’s brain that controls his impulses and emotions matures very, very slowly. It’s easy to assume that kids are being uncooperative or obstinate when really they’re just acting their age.”
If you are patient and consistent, the behavioral changes with your child in this age group experiences will go more smoothly. We also have a Resource Library in the lobby at Gentle East filled with parenting resources.