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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
Crouch downSlide 3 of 17
Label emotions and feelingsSlide 4 of 17
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Slow downSlide 6 of 17
Slow downSlide 7 of 17
Give limited choices when asking questionsSlide 8 of 17