This is part of a series where I match to the childhood developmental milestones a tool or idea to use at that milestone. This one is for Preschool Milestone 1.
At this one, a child starts to notice more sounds and make conclusions about them. They become interested in something like ice shifting in the freezer. What is that noise? What happened? You can use this to your advantage in planning activities. You can do activities where you guess what sounds are. A child will also like mystery stories as they put together clues of what happened. Richard Scarry books are great for this age. You can also use this during a meltdown. You can then not only dissipate the meltdown but turn it into an educational opportunity. Here is one idea: pretend to be blind. Here is how it worked once for us at this age.
My research and understanding of cognitive growth helps with discipline so much. My daughter is in Preschool Milestone 1, which starts +/- 1 week of 3. I keep watching it to see how it goes. The irritable behavior keeps getting more intense. The dominant new ability is an ability to draw a conclusion even if something isn’t in sight. For instance, if she hears the garage door open, she says “Daddy is home,” without directly seeing her dad. I have many other examples like this in what seems to be a growing pattern.
Today she had a big meltdown—the kind that happens during cognitive growth spurts. She had just woke up and so was freshly rested. She had a meltdown about who could give her milk in the morning. Then who could put the lid on. She wanted to, resulting in it spilling. She refused a diaper change. Then she just started crying and crying and crying.
I sometimes try to do something in alignment with the milestone to calm my children down. I had thought of an activity to do where she is blindfolded and has to guess what an object is. But, I thought, she is drawing conclusions mostly based on what she hears. So instead of guessing an object by feeling it, maybe she could guess what animal it is based on the animal noise. So, while she was in meltdown mode, I closed my eyes and asked my husband to make an animal noise. While “blindfolded,” I guessed, “Oh! Is that a dog! I hear a dog!” It kept going like this. My daughter instantly started giggling. She started making animal noises too and had me guess what they were. Granted, both my 5-year-old and 1-year-old were also laughing. My children then started bringing me things to guess what they were, including themselves. They were oinking like a pig, but were they a pig? My 3-year-old started pushing me around, while I couldn’t see, and I would SURPRISE bump into things.
Working on MIG: Preschoolers now. See Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to the Toddler Years