The preschool life stage covers 2-5 year olds. The physical developments that occur during this stage include rapid brain development and coordination through fine motor skills that help to strengthen cognitive and social advances. A major cognitive development that occurs is symbolic capacity; the ability to put significance to symbols. An example of this is language acquisition. Although your child may have been talking before this life stage, they are now beginning to understand language. Which means the answer ‘no’ is suddenly popping up in the conversation.
Symbolic capacity also includes pretend play, a form of undirected play. Your child should be in charge of the flow of the games they are creating. As a mother, your role is to engage in this play when asked and to approve of their creation (within reason of course!). One of the psychosocial development issues of this life stage is initiative vs. guilt and can be accomplished through explorative play. The whole point of initiative vs. guilt contemplates purpose and the idea of a child believing they are good or bad. This sets up a unique playtime. As a mother you are engaging in undirected play, but your child will be creating their own version of directed play. They are setting the rules and taking control. As a mother the best way to encourage initiative is by allowing play and abiding by the rules of the game. This instills confidence in your child and helps to establish a sense of purpose.
Preschoolers also deal with the issue of autonomy vs. shame, which is about personal control. Your child wants to be able to do things for themselves. This issue is known for being extremely annoying for moms. Suddenly your child wants to pick out their own mismatched clothes, won’t eat certain foods, and wants to prove they are capable. This makes sense because the preschool life stage is strongly guided by perception over logic. They don’t care that vegetables are good for them, mac and cheese tastes better! Creating personal autonomy sets your child up to be independent in the future.
Play is encompassed through both psychosocial development issues. Children will look up to you to approve of their play. The mantra of “mom, watch me do this!” as they complete a jump in the air or knock down the toy towers they made encourages both their autonomy and initiative through your support.