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Home » Age-by-Age Insights »

Preschoolers: Ages 3-5


Mom: Count to three and the injection will be done. | Girl: 1,2,3, done!

Explore Ideas Through Play

How You Communicate

Sick preschoolers need as much physical closeness as possible and extra time with you. Give them an opportunity to describe or play act what's bothering them. Ask simple questions to draw out how they are feeling, both physically and emotionally. Children at this age don't have a big vocabulary for describing illness. Therefore, you might ask a child who has difficulty describing her aches and pains to point to what hurts.

Preschoolers interpret words literally and begin to think logically about sequences of events. Explain to your child why she is sick or injured and describe what will happen next in simple terms. Reassure her that she will get well soon and that you will take care of her.

To gain your child's cooperation, offer choices instead of rewards, because choices give a preschooler a sense of control. You might say, "Do you want to hold your teddy bear or your stuffed dog while I take your temperature?"

If preschoolers seem fearful about going to the doctor, it may help to act out a trip. You might examine stuffed animals with a doctor kit and suggest coping strategies using the characters. To create a positive association and diminish fear, do an activity your preschooler enjoys after every visit — no matter how she behaves. Turn it into a ritual and your child will look forward to it!

School Age - What Kids Experience

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