As parents, it requires a lot of patience to teach children right from wrong, how to respect others, how to share and be fair, how to take responsibility—how to develop those inner values that constitute a person of character. The parenting tips for each story are meant to help you reinforce the message in the story in a way that is meaningful to your child. This kind of learning is gradual and progressive, and occurs as things happen, as children observe and comment on other’s behaviors, and as parents listen and teach children right from wrong. Children are never too young to learn, so be on the lookout for those teaching moments, and be aware that you are your child’s best example. Here are a few reminders about early childhood development to keep in mind.
- Toddlers and 2’s. Toddlers at the early stages of acquiring language are also beginning to become aware of the world outside of their own physical and emotional needs. The ‘terrible twos’ behavior is the way the toddlers try out their new sense of autonomy. Children of this age want and need to “do it by myself.” Parallel play in which two children play side by side without much direct interaction is very typical of this age.
- 3-5 year olds are moving into the wider world. In this period, the child becomes increasingly social and concerned with friendship and power—these two concerns are often seen in the dramatic play a child enacts alone or with other children. Dramatic play is one of the ways children work out their understanding of the world and their experience and what it is means to grow up. It is a very important activity and children can become so engaged that they often find it hard to clearly distinguish between reality and imagination. Developmentally, 3-5’s are still very much at the stage where they believe in magic.
- Between the ages of 5-7, children go through a major shift in their ability to generalize, to reason and to engage in abstract thinking. During the “5 to 7 shift” as it is often called, there is significant increase in understanding of number; this is also the point when children begin to be able to distinguish for themselves between right and wrong.