“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”Dr. Seuess
“Wait! I have to tell my mommy something!”
If you enjoy watching our youngest Ninjas in action during Early SKILLZ class enjoyment, then you know all too well how much these littles absolutely love to tell mommy and daddy all about their special thoughts, feelings, challenges and victories in real time!
You see, 3-4 year olds live entirely in the moment. They are actively soaking up every ounce of the experiences they are immersed in. Children are full of energy! They look at their surroundings, watch what others do, and listen to the sounds around them. They then use these experiences to tell you what they have seen and heard. It is an amazing time in their lives!
But what happens when the senses become overwhelmed? What about the experience in the moment combined with many other adventures of the day become too much?
3-4 Year Old’s: Emotional Development
Children are beginning to take their first steps away from the protective wing of mom and dad to learn more about the world they live in.
At this stage of our children’s emotional development, we tend to see:
· When children are separated from their mom or dad, they might feel scared, worried, or anxious. This is a normal feeling and can happen even when the separation is just for a little while.
· An exploration of emotions; learning what anger is, sadness, frustration, worry. Where am I feeling this in my body? How do I move through the big feelings?
· Difficulty in channeling the big feelings from excitement to the other end of the spectrum, anger.
3-4 Year Old’s: Social Development
At this age and stage of development, children though beginning to observe and take in what others around them are up to, are still very self-focused.
Three and four year olds have a limited vocabulary. So, when they don’t get what they want, they may try to push their friend. It can be hard for them to understand that when playing with a new friend, it’s ok to take turns and share the toy instead of “losing it forever”.
Knowing what we know about the emotional and social stages of development for 3-4 year olds, how is our team supporting children on and beyond the mats to flourish in these areas?
1. Emotional Regulation
a. By having our ninjas actively exercise emotional regulation techniques on the mats when big feelings arise, we are helping to:
- 1. Define the emotion being felt; label it
- 2. Assist in shifting from “downstairs,” the emotionally driven brain to the “upstairs,” logical thinking center through breath work and regulation strategies like 5-4-3-2-1.
“Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can touch and 1 thing you can taste.”
- 3. By holding space, identifying the emotion and helping to guide our little Ninjas back to calm and center, we are giving them a template for how to encounter future big feelings with more confidence in knowing how to move through them safely and effectively.
2. Shining a Light on the Good Choices vs. the Poor Choices
a. We can help kids learn good things by pointing out the choices they make that are right. This will help them understand when they do something well. When they know they have done something well, it goes a long way and encourages them to try and replicate that again in the future. In the event a poor choice is made, responding in a posture of “How can we do better next time?” or “What is the better choice?” goes a long way in supporting their emotional development.
3. Encouraging Skill Development
a. By immersing your child in safe and supportive environments where they are able to explore their emotions and interact with peers their age, you are giving them the incredible gift and opportunity to learn, grow and mature in their emotional as well as social development!
Every part of why we do what we do is with the purposeful intention of ensuring the whole mind, body and spirit of your child is supported.
Have more questions regarding the emotional and social development of 3-4 year olds? Our team is standing by to help answer them along with any tips of personal support you may be needing beyond the mats.
We are honored to walk alongside you in the journey and be a part of the safe, nurturing tribe of support for your Ninja!
About the Author
Meg Klettke is the proud owner alongside her husband, Alex of Family Strong Sussex, a SKILLZ Lifetime Gold studio in Southeastern Wisconsin. With a background in traditional and alternative therapeutics, Meg is an active advocate for today’s youth. Her passion for supporting and nurturing the whole child resonates through all she does as a Proud Ninja Mom of two boys with special needs, Certified Pediatric Ninja Specialist and Content Creator for SKILLZ Worldwide.