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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior: What to Expect and When to Be Concerned

From NCLD.org - The National Center for Learning Disabilities

By Kaleigh Dumbach-Fusco
September 5, 2013

Your five-year-old seems to have the world’s shortest attention span. She is often frustrated easily and can slide into a tantrum quickly. It’s certainly frustrating for you as a parent, and you ask yourself: Is she just being a five-year-old, or is this something I need to be concerned about?

Many parents ask themselves this very question. While your child’s preschool and kindergarten teachers had the benefit of studying early childhood development in their professional training, it can be hard for parents to determine what behaviors are expected at these young ages and what behaviors might be “red flags” of a problem with behavior, attention or learning.

By the age of three or four, a child should be developing the following social and emotional skills:
  • Takes care of his own needs, such as washing hands and dressing;
  • Enjoys helping with household tasks;
  • Adjusts to new situations without an adult being present;
  • Is starting to notice other people's moods and feelings;
  • Is beginning to recognize his limits and ask others for help;
  • Is starting to learn to take turns, share and cooperate;
  • Expresses anger with words rather than acting out physically.

Remember, not all children develop at the same pace or in the same ways. Variations in the course of development are to be expected! However, unevenness or lags in the mastery of skills or behaviors, even in young children, should not be ignored.

You may want to seek help if your preschool or kindergarten child:
  • Has difficulty joining in and maintaining positive social status in a peer group;
  • Has a hard time maintaining self-control when frustrated;
  • Throws long, drawn-out, or frequent tantrums, or bullies other children;
  • Is unusually withdrawn or seems sad (be sure to look for this behavior in group activities as well as solo play and artwork);
  • Suffers from extreme anxiety when separated from you, even in a familiar setting;
  • Has difficulty understanding age-appropriate instructions or directions, such as those given by a preschool teacher;
  • Is easily distracted and unable to concentrate on a single work task or play activity for more than five minutes.

Discuss your concerns with your child’s preschool or kindergarten teacher, pediatrician and, if necessary, a specialist (such as a child psychologist).


Wondering about other aspects of your child's development, including language, reading, gross and fine motor skills and more? Check out our Interactive LD Checklist.

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