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Child Developmental Topic Getting more independent Stages: 3 to 5 years

What’s going on for baby?

Our tamaiti is now becoming much more aware that they’re a unique individual.

They will be working out friendships and how relationships work. Their awareness increases about other people’s feelings and perspectives, which helps their developing sense of empathy.

They’re not always good at sharing yet, but they’re learning to.

They are still developing their ability to regulate their emotions.

They’ll be curious about gender — their own and others’ — because they now understand that boys and girls are different.

They can follow simple instructions and feel proud of their ability to complete tasks.

‘I can do it’ is still a favourite phrase and will be used regularly, especially when it comes to getting dressed, washing hands and brushing teeth.

How can parents and whānau help?

  • Help them to feel special by encouraging their achievements and acknowledging what they can do, and also when they’re trying hard.
  • Encourage and help them to share. Ask them about their ideas for making things fair for everyone.
  • Talk with them about your own feelings — the frustrating ones and the happy ones.
  • Read stories about kids who are learning to share, join in a group or deal with upsets.
  • Understand that it’s quite natural for children of the same age to be curious about each other’s bodies, especially those of the opposite gender.
  • Calmly accept their natural curiosity. Adult reactions will influence whether tamariki feel this is something odd, naughty or shameful, or just another normal learning experience.
  • Give simple, clear answers to their questions.
  • Encourage self-care practices with patience and consistency as they learn to look after themselves well. They’ll benefit from developing skills such as  going to the toilet independently, hand-washing, using a tissue, brushing their teeth and dressing themselves.
  • If you are concerned about how well they do a task, say something like, ‘You brush your teeth first and then I’ll check them for you when you’re finished.’
  • Remember to work on tasks together and to offer tamariki simple choices.

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