How Setting Age Appropriate Expectations Helps You and Your Child


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Each week, I create a new parenting challenge for my parent audience – parents who are interested in learning about Positive Discipline parenting tools. This week’s parenting challenge was:



age appropriate




for your child


Do you know that
children go through
typical stages of development?

It’s help to learn about behaviors that are common for your child’s age group and are due to typical development.

Are you expecting too much too soon?

Learning about ages and stages

will help you create realistic expectations

for your child.

Although no two children are exactly alike,

children move through typical stages of development.

How Setting Age Appropriate Expectations Helps You and Your Child

Parenting can be super frustrating for both parent and child when parents don’t understand what’s age appropriate for children to do. For example, if parents expect toddlers to understand the meaning of the word, “no,” then when toddlers don’t “obey” (in the parent’s mind), parents usually perceive that the toddler is being defiant. Read What Does Your Child Under 3 Know About No, an excerpt from Positive Discipline The First Three Years [Three Rivers Press, 2007.]

Toddlers are still learning about language and how it works. “Don’t touch the glass” may well be interpreted as “touch the glass” by a toddler. (Do not touch is asking toddler to understand two verbs that contradict each other.) I’ve observed a parent saying, “Don’t touch the glass” and the toddler smiled and immediately touched the glass. Instead of saying, “Don’t touch the glass,” a parent might have more success with “Walk over here to me” or “Here, hold this ball.”

Parents often tell me stories of preschoolers getting into make up, art supplies, etc. and making huge messes. Parents of preschoolers can keep preschoolers busy with open ended activities such as building with blocks, water play, sandbox play and dress up. Preschoolers’ brains are wired to explore. Setting up activities helps provide them with lots of exploration time and then parents can be nearby to supervise and set boundaries about the exploration. Preschoolers still need tons of supervision. If you know how to set up the environment to stimulate a preschooler’s brain, typical preschoolers will sometimes stay busy in play for an entire hour while you get laundry done or rest nearby.

One of the best ways to prevent misbehavior is by understanding typical development and providing children with age appropriate activities to keep them engaged.

For each challenge, I also offer information to help you be successful in implementing the parenting challenge. If you’d like to receive the parenting challenge along with helpful information and links to articles in your e-mail inbox each Monday, simply join my mailing list.

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

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