Children learn behaviors like sitting still and paying attention in preschool.

Behavioral Goals for Preschoolers

by Cara Batema

Preschoolers are more independent than toddlers, and they are eager to learn. Through learning experiences, preschoolers struggle with peer relationships, developing self-control, and utilizing language and communication skills. You’ve probably noticed that preschoolers reach developmental stages at different times, but outlining goals for your children can help you direct them into appropriate behaviors. Behavioral preschool goals focus on social and self-help skills.

1. Social Skills

Children are naturally social creatures, and for the most part, kids love to interact with their peers. Preschool gives them an opportunity to do so, but some children need more guidance grasping the concepts of appropriate social interaction. You’d love to assume your child is always a perfect angel, but many children show behaviors like pushing or hitting when they are frustrated or as a way of communicating; you’d likely want your child to avoid such behavior. Preschool goals in the social skills realm might include developing caring attitudes towards peers and adults, playing cooperatively, sharing, and following classroom rules. By age three, children should understand consistent rules and the consequences of breaking them, and by age four, they should know how to take turns and share.

2. Emotional Development

Parents who can objectively observe their children’s behavior might think they’re bipolar, as preschoolers’ emotions are often extreme and change every five minutes. Preschoolers also tend to get bossy or more aggressive towards their peers. You’ve also probably heard more than a story or two, and you know your kids have active imaginations. Encourage dramatic play, sharing feelings by using words, and using opportunities for independence. Praise your preschooler for his achievements. These steps help reach preschool goals such as improving self-worth and self-confidence, increasing independence and decision making, and cultivating the ability to express or communicate thoughts and feelings.

3. Learning Skills

Obviously one of the points of preschool is to prepare your child for school, which is a much more strict and refined environment. Teach your kid the skills he needs early on to improve his ability to learn. Positive behaviors in a learning environment include raising a hand before speaking, using listening skills, and following rules. When you provide your child with praise, he becomes more motivated to learn and repeat the same positive behaviors that earned him the approval. By the time your child is 4 or 5 years old, he should be able to sit through a lesson quietly, follow simple directions, and show some self-regulation of behavior, meaning he should show attention and ability to complete a task with relatively little redirection or assistance.

4. Responsibility

Responsibility behaviors are keystones to preschoolers’ development and should happen during his preschool years. Putting their shoes or backpacks in the cubby holes, hanging up their jackets, or putting toys away are skills you don’t want to take for granted. Responsibility for wellness is also an important behavior for preschoolers to learn, such as eating their vegetables. Introducing new foods, encouraging good nutrition, letting your child pick out her wardrobe, and practicing good hygiene are all ways for you to reach these behavioral goals.

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