Anyone who has ever met both a toddler and a teen knows that the early childhood period is vastly different than the child's later years. That said, child rearing practices in early childhood require their own techniques, standards and strategies that are unique to the younger years. From behavior and discipline to education, parents of kids who are under age 8 must sensitize themselves to early childhood issues in order to facilitate positive development.
Before picking a parenting strategy, deciding on discipline techniques or dealing with the day-to-day issues affecting your young child, it's best to get a grip on what typical early childhood development is. Young children are building the basics and often show immaturity when it comes to developmental areas such as emotional or social skills. The national child development organization Zero to Three notes that young toddlers have yet to develop a sense of self-control or build prosocial skills. This can lead to unacceptable or even aggressive behaviors. As your child moves through the preschool years and into the early grade school ones, he will begin to become more social, have some ability to regulate his emotions, build cognitive skills such as attention and memory, and understand concepts such as rules and consequences.
Disciplining the young child isn't always an easy task. Children under the preschool years may have little ability to grasp the concept of consequences for actions, necessitating more basic techniques. KidsHealth suggests that parents use simple, understandable words to stop infants and toddlers from engaging in unwanted behaviors. Additionally, time-outs (with one minute per the child's age) work well with toddlers as well as preschool-aged kids. This strategy allows your child to take a break, or have time-out, from a difficult situation. As your child reaches the older preschool and early grade school years, using rules and consequences becomes a viable option. Your 5-year-old can understand that she will only get her special snack treat if she cleans up her toys.
Unlike the middle childhood and teen years, not every child in the early childhood stage must go to school. While states vary in terms of minimum compulsory school age from as young as 5 to as old as 8, parents may face educational decisions when it comes to early learning experiences. According to the National Education Association, high-quality early education programs have long-term benefits for kids, such as being more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to repeat grades and less likely to get into criminally-related trouble. Given these advantages, child rearing during early childhood often includes choosing an effective day care or preschool program that will help the child to develop and grow as a learner.
Media and Technology
Between computers, TVs, tablets, cell phones and other assorted electronic equipment, kids are getting an earlier start when it comes to using technology. This seemingly constant exposure to media-related images has a definite effect on the young child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of 2 shouldn't watch any TV at all. As your little one ages, he may begin to confuse the fantasy world of the media with real life. A 3-year-old who sees his favorite super hero gaining glory by physically hurting other people may think that this behavior is acceptable. It's the parent's job to help the young child to understand the difference between what the media says and what is an appropriate way to behave. Additionally, too much time engaging with media and technology may take young children away from interacting socially with other kids and participating in healthy physical fitness activities.
- Zero to Three: Coping with Aggression and Teaching Self-Control in the Early Years
- Healthy Children: Developmental Milestones: 4 to 5 Year Olds
- KidsHealth: Disciplining Your Child
- National Education Association: Early Childhood Education
- NCSL: Compulsory School Age Requirements
- Healthy Children: Why to Avoid TV Before Age 2
- Healthy Children: Where We Stand: TV Viewing Time
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