Virginia Tech® home

Learning in Families Together: Pre-schoolers



Authors as Published

Karen DeBord, Virginia Cooperative Extension Specialist, Family, and Human Development; Reviewed by Crystal Tyler-Mackey, Extension Specialist, Community viability, Virginia Tech

Being able to wait their turn, not throwing a difficult puzzle across the room in frustration, and staying in bed at night are all behaviors that children must learn.

Parenting Secrets

  • By age 2, children are almost half as tall as they will be as adults.
  • As they learn to talk, preschoolchildren learn to name objectsbefore they combine words andbefore they can make decisionswith playmates.
  • Children ages 2 to 3 are learningto explore and be separate fromtheir parents. Give them a safespace to explore.
  • Childproofing makes a parent’sjob easier and children safer!

Together Time

Develop routines.

  • Mornings can be stressful andevenings are not relaxing if youdon’t have a routine. Think itthrough, start a routine, and stickto it. Children feel safe whenthey know what is coming nextand learn how to behave withinthese limits.

Play Time

Play is a child’s work and learning how to play is essential.

  • Common household itemssuch as measuring cups, boxes,spoons, and junk mail are oftenall that is needed. Think aboutusing sorting, naming, andgrouping activities.

Learning Time

Developing a sense of self-control seems slow to develop. Behaviors such as whining in checkout lines, physical outbursts against siblings, and an inability to sit still when waiting are examples of loss of control.

  • Prepare the child beforeentering a store. Have hand toysready to keep their hands busy.Allow them to hold the broccolior look for colors you name.
  • Avoid taking a tired or hungrychild shopping. Your trip will bemiserable.
  • Sometimes, buying a treat butnot buying one another time isthe strongest reinforcement of“asking” versus “whining.” Beconsistent.
  • Tell the child before entering astore what behavior is expected.Don’t threaten to leave whenthey exhibit poor behavior. Justleave. Restate your expectationsthen calmly leave. The next time,remind them what you expectand try again.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law

Publication Date

May 20, 2019