This phase has remarkable potential. School represents a major cultural shift for this phase. Beginning school for a significant portion of their week is a major social, intellectual, and emotional transition. This is the phase when unfiltered words will make you laugh, school drop-off makes you cry, and life becomes a stage when your child wants to know if they have your attention. Sometimes conversation seems like a run-on sentence that just keeps on talking.
When formal education starts, so does competition for adult attention. At school, church, or the soccer field, one thing is true: your child wants your undivided attention. They want your focus. They want your approval. So give it to them freely and generously, as much as possible. Kids thrive on routine and predictability, while they also benefit from unstructured and spontaneous play.
One of the best gifts you can give to your child in this phase is education, practice, and coaching in social skills. They need to learn social skills by trial-and-error, so it’s important to be less of a “helicopter parent” on the playground and more of a coach after-the-fact, debriefing what happened and how it made your child feel.
“Can you show me how to connect with other people?”
Help your child develop socially. Refer to this “Social Skills” document and identify a few skills that you can use consistently to teach, redirect, role play, and reinforce your child’s social development.
Positive social interactions rely heavily on a person’s ability to regulate their emotions. For more tips and resources to help your child identify and express their emotions in a healthy way, refer to the 3-year-old Phase.
Parenting Your Kindergartner by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner
Parenting Scripts by Amber Lia & Wendy Speake
The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
The Importance of Being Little by Erika Christakis
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