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Talking with kids
Having a conversation with a preschooler has its moments — some of them amusing and some of them are challenging. Kids who are in the preschool age range tend to say "no" and ask "why?" A lot.
But preschoolers are just learning to communicate verbally and are coming into their own understanding of how the back-and-forth flow of a simple conversation works, said Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development in New York City. Kids are considered to be preschool-age when they are 3 to 5 years old, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although some experts include 2-year-olds in the preschool category.
One of the common mistakes that parents might make when talking with preschoolers is having expectations that are often too high, Klein said. For example, if parents know that young children are sometimes capable of putting on their shoes, they assume that their little ones are always capable of putting on their shoes.
Another mistake parents make is being very future-oriented in their thinking, so that they may be constantly thinking ahead when they’re communicating with their preschooler. But children live in the here and now, said Klein, who has authored the book "How Toddlers Thrive" (Touchstone, 2014), which is a parenting guide for children ages 2 to 5. [10 Scientific Tips for Raising Happy Kids]
Although parents can think of three things at once, young children are not good at sequencing information and need parents to guide them through the process, Klein said. For example, she said that a parent might say to a 3-year-old, "We need to leave for school. It's time to get your coat."
When parents use this kind of language — clear, simple and direct — kids may understand their parents better, Klein said.
Here are eight other tried-and-true tips for communicating effectively with a preschooler.
Crouch downSlide 2 of 17
Crouching down or sitting down so parents are speaking to preschoolers literally and physically on their level rather than towering over them is helpful, Klein said. It establishes some eye contact and is one way for parents to communicate the idea that "I'm here with you," she explained.
Doing so also helps to get a young child's attention in a positive way, Klein noted.Slide 3 of 17
Label emotions and feelingsSlide 4 of 17
Label emotions and feelings
Children between ages 2 and 5 are just starting to understand emotions, such as fear, anger, frustration and disappointment, Klein told Live Science.
Labeling those feelings and emotions is a big part of communication with preschoolers, Klein said. For example, a parent might say, "It's disappointing that it's raining outside, and you can't go out to play," she said.
Naming these emotions helps a young child to understand them, Klein said.Slide 5 of 17
Slow downSlide 6 of 17
"Children move at a slower rate," and parents in today's busy world need to remember to slow down to this pace, Klein said. It might take longer than a parent thinks to complete a child's bedtime routine or to go grocery shopping with young kids, so parents should factor in that extra time, she explained.
Parents may often be guilty of trying to accomplish too much in one moment, so slowing down and remembering to exhale is important around young children, Klein recommended. When a child sees that lots of things are going on for a parent, this makes it hard for the child to know if that parent is going to be there for him or her, Klein said.Slide 7 of 17
Give limited choices when asking questionsSlide 8 of 17