Little people’s lives are a daily stream of fun new experiences. And you, the parent, are the one with the key to this exciting world. Between the ages of three and five, your child is primed to pick up new skills, with the heaps of enthusiasm unique to tot-dom. So, whatever your most adored pastimes, whether that’s getting outside and cycling, or watching the alchemy of flour, eggs, butter and sugar become something delicious, now’s the time to share it with them.
“There’s a golden time between the ages of three and five, as your child learns to have a clearly defined sense of self and before they become increasingly interested in their peers, when your child is entirely receptive to you,” says psychologist Linda Blair, author of The Happy Child: Everything You Need To Know To Raise Enthusiastic, Confident Children. “Enjoy the adulation, Sadly, it won’t last.”
Linda adds that it’s not what you teach that matters so much, as how you teach – enthusiastically and with love. “Do things you love doing – kids have a radar for that – and it will be doubly fun for you,” she says. “It’s also important to be consistent with limits so your child learns impulse control, whether it’s tidying up or sticking to the same bedtime routine. Don’t waiver on the boundaries, so they can learn to set their own rules when they’re older.”
You don’t need to take your child to a constant stream of organised activities (although some can be fun) or buy special toys and games; just spending one-on-one time together is what matters. By hugging, kissing, listening and talking, your child will grow up feeling special and knowing how much they matter to you. Take every opportunity to read with your child, not just for cuddle-up close time, but to help expand their vocabulary and spark their already fertile imagination and own storytelling skills.
Here’s some ideas for you to get playing on, together.