The Magical Age

magical_ageWhen your child turns three, he or she will suddenly announce, “Look out world, I am here!”

From the age of three until your child enters formal school usually at the age of five, he or she will experience the wonder of the world in a way that they will never experience again in their lifetime. This is the age of imagination, of magic, of play. And yet at the same time preschool children often appear as little “scientists” testing the limits of physics or little “sociologists” analyzing human behavior to understand how people live together and communicate with each other.

The challenging role of the parent is clear. You must continue the job of civilizing these young members of society, while preserving their need to explore, examine, and analyze the world. In other words, allow for these important developmental steps to occur within certain social boundaries and in a safe, protective environment.

To accomplish this you must first recognize your child’s temperament and understand the basics of child development at each age. Then you must allow your child to play as much as possible. Provide imaginative play materials and toys and then let the child do the rest. Re-live your own childhoods as you get down and play with your child and enter their rich imaginary worlds. Pay close attention to how they see things and marvel at the wonder of imagination and the richness of play. Have fun with them.

At the same time you must learn to set limits and to effectively discipline your child when necessary. This is the hard part for many parents. But your child is depending on you for this vital role. This is a magical age. It won’t last forever. Enjoy your preschool child.