Staying Cool with Preschoolers: Mastering the Art
Dr. Kristi Smith, D.Ed., M.Ed., CFE   •   July 25, 2023

Parenting preschool-age children can be both rewarding and challenging. These energetic little explorers have boundless energy, curiosity, and an infectious sense of wonder. However, their intense energy and occasional meltdowns can leave even the most patient adults feeling frazzled. Staying cool with preschoolers requires a delicate balance of patience, creativity, and understanding. In this blog, we will explore some effective strategies to keep your cool while fostering a positive and fun environment for your young children.

  • Embrace the Power of Play – Play is the language of preschoolers, and engaging in playtime with them can be incredibly beneficial. Joining them in their imaginative worlds not only strengthens bonds but also provides opportunities to see the world through their eyes. Let go of adult responsibilities for a while and let your inner child come out to play. Embrace the fun of dress-up, building forts, pretending to be their favorite characters, or playing outside in a sprinkler on a hot day. Playing together will not only keep you cool and stress-free but also provides opportunities to help extend learning opportunities.
  • Establish a Routine – Young children thrive on routines and predictability. Creating a structured daily schedule with designated playtime, mealtime, naptime, and toilet training times can bring a sense of stability to their lives. When children know what to expect, they are less likely to become irritable or frustrated. Additionally, having a routine allows you to plan ahead and anticipate their needs, leading to a smoother and more enjoyable experience for all.
  • Teach Emotional Regulation – Preschoolers are still learning to understand and manage their emotions, which can lead to emotional outbursts or tantrums. As a parent or caregiver, it is essential to teach them about emotional regulation by modeling it yourself. When you encounter challenging situations, demonstrate calmness and positive coping mechanisms. Show them that it’s okay to feel emotions but that there are constructive ways to express and deal with them. Remember, keep your cool – patience is key during these moments.
  • Utilize Positive Reinforcement – Everyone loves positive reinforcement, including young children!
     Acknowledge and praise their good behavior, achievements, and efforts. A simple “well done” or “great job” can go a long way in boosting self-esteem and motivating them to continue positive behavior. Moreover, positive reinforcement helps build strong parent-child connections based on trust and respect.
  • Note: Refrain from using food to reinforce positive behaviors and NEVER take food away from children if they do not act as expected. Food, water, shelter, and the air we breathe are essential to life, and it is not healthy physically nor emotionally to use these items to motivate behavior.

Staying cool with young children might feel like a daunting task at times, but with the right strategies and mindset, it can become an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Embrace play, establish routines, and teach emotional regulation to foster a positive and nurturing environment. Create a chill-out zone for heated moments when you or your children lose their cool. A chill-out zone can be simply a place with soft pillows where you or your children drink a cool glass of water and take a few deep breaths. Use this space whenever anyone feels overwhelmed or upset. Remember, staying cool with preschoolers is all about navigating heated emotions and turning chaotic events into chill moments.

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