Don’t worry if your child has a imaginary friend
at this age. Make-believe mates grow out of healthy, active imaginations, give children a great way to express their feelings, and give children someone to practise social skills with.
Changing preschool children’s behaviour: some tips
Preschoolers have short memories and are easily distracted. You might need to remind your child about things several times.
If you can honestly tell your preschooler how her behaviour affects you, she can recognise her own emotions in yours, like a mirror, and be able to feel for you. So you might say, ‘I'm getting upset because there’s so much noise, and I can’t talk on the phone’. When you start the sentence with ‘I’, it gives your child the chance to change things for your sake.
Change the environment
You can often prevent or minimise problem behaviour by changing your child’s environment. For example, if your preschooler is getting frustrated because your baby keeps crawling over his jigsaw puzzle, try to find a quiet spot where your preschooler can play undisturbed.
When you explain the consequences of behaviour, your preschooler can figure out why something is wrong. This helps her understand the world around her. Sometimes it’s OK not to explain too.
Setting consequences for undesirable behaviour can help to change your child’s behaviour. Sometimes you won’t have to set a consequence at all. The natural consequences of your child’s behaviour will help him learn too – for example, feeling a bit cold because he wouldn’t put on a coat.
Time-out is a type of consequence. It involves having your child go to a place that’s away from interesting activities and other people for a short period of time. You can use it for particularly difficult behaviour, or when you and your child both need a break from each other.
Encouraging your child to change her behaviour can be tricky. But when children get praise, encouragement and rewards for behaving well, they’re likely to want to keep behaving well.
Discipline is helping your child learn how to behave – as well as how not to behave. Discipline works best when it’s firm but fair and when you have a warm and loving relationship with your child.
Discipline doesn’t always, or even often, mean punishment. Punishment by itself doesn’t guide children towards what they should do – it teaches children only what they shouldn’t do.
Punishment doesn’t mean physical punishment. Physical punishment like smacking doesn’t teach children how to behave and can hurt children.
Contact a child health professional if you have concerns about your preschooler’s behaviour or you don’t know what to do about your child’s behaviour.
When your child’s behaviour is challenging you might feel angry
. Looking after yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep and doing some physical activity can help. It can also help to talk about your feelings with someone you trust, like your partner, a friend or your GP. Or you could call a parenting helpline
in your state or territory.