Children in the pre-school years experience a tremendous number of developmental changes. It is important that parents of pre-schoolers adjust parenting styles to accommodate their children’s new development, while keeping in mind that preschoolers continue to require guidance and support.
Three to five year olds think they are the center of the universe and therefore often feel they are responsible for the divorce. They may say what they believe the parent wants to hear. It is important to remember that this does not necessarily reflect the child’s real experience. If the child reports parental behavior that causes concern, discuss the matter with the other parent. In many instances, the child may have misunderstood what happened and talking to the other parent may resolve the issue.
Pre-schoolers tend to be impulsive and very concrete in their thinking. Nightmares are normal at this age as children become able to imagine frightening things, but have difficulty coping with their fears.
Three to five year olds are attached to their regular caregivers, and separation from them may cause them to be fearful, uncomfortable or anxious. They may have troublemoving between their parents’ homes. They may become upset, yet once there become settled and happy in the other parent’s home. Children will do better if each parent can display a positive attitude during transitions and give some advance notice of any anticipated changes.
Children of this age can benefit from structured time with children of their own age, away from their parents. Children are beginning to understand days and weeks, but not time.
Pre-schoolers continue to need consistency and predictability. They may be changing their naptime or giving up naps altogether and parents must communicate about andtake into account their child’s changing sleep schedule.