The preschool years are a fun and wonderful time. As parents, we want to savor these days, but there are shoes to put on, toys to clean up and manners to be taught. Here are some fun ways to get your preschooler to cooperate with you while having fun and creating family memories.
Tell A Secret
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Use this game when you need your preschooler to come to you. Call out in your best dramatic voice “I have a secret for whoever tags my hand” (or foot, or bellybutton or whatever silly variation you want). When your preschooler tags you, whisper a secret in their ear. It can be a sweet secret (I love you so much), a silly secret (I saw a purple cow), or a joke (why is 6 scared of 7). The trick is to be as dramatic and silly as you can.
Pretend to Be an Animal
Use this game when you need your preschooler to go somewhere, such as go to the car or leave a play date. After you have given your children a countdown (We are leaving in 5 minutes), say, “OK, It’s time to leave. Let’s pretend to be a frog (or whatever type of animal you choose) as we go to the car.” Then everyone (including you) pretends to be an animal. The more dramatic (complete with noises) that you are, the more fun it is. A variation is to have everyone choose their favorite animal from a category, such as favorite farm animal or sea animal.
Have a Race
Use this to get your preschooler to do something quickly, like get their shoes on, get dressed, or clean up something. The trick is to have the child race against the clock, not each other. Ask the child if they are fast. Then say, “Let’s see if you can get your shoes on in 2 minutes.” Set the timer and watch how quickly your preschooler moves. If you don’t have a timer, you can also count. It works best if you pick a crazy number, such as “Can you put your jacket on before I get to 17?” A fun variation if you are counting is to speed up the counting and slow it down randomly. For some reason, this game is magic and will turn dawdling preschoolers into speed racers.
Give Your Preschooler A Mission
Use this when you need your preschooler to complete a task or go somewhere. Have them help you find your car, count the steps to the bathroom, guess how many blocks are on the floor, or whatever fun mission that you can come up with. This helps them take their mind off the task or transition at hand and helps them feel useful. It helps to tailor this game to your child’s interests if they like to count have them count items if they have a favorite color have them find blue cars.
Put on Your Listening Ears
Use this game when you need your preschooler to remember their manners, such as at a restaurant, movie theatre, or museum. Right before you enter the building, gather your preschooler up and say dramatically “I have something important to tell you. Can anyone tell me what type of ears we need to wear in the museum?” When your preschooler says “Listening ears” say “OK, let’s put on our listening ears. I think that mine are in my shoe (or some other funny place).” Then dramatically pretend to pull them out of your shoe and put them on. Have your preschooler find their listening ears and pretend to put them on. You can also do this with walking feet or inside voice. The trick is to be as silly and dramatic as possible. If your child forgets their manners during the situation whisper to them “You must have put your listening ears back in your belly button when I wasn’t looking. Let’s find them again and put them back on.”
Have a Special Dance
Use this as a reward when your preschooler finishes something that they don’t want to do. You could have a Clean Teeth Dance, a Clean Plate Club Dance, a Got Dressed by Myself Dance or even a Clean Room Dance. The sillier the dance, the better. Hint – It’s a lot more fun if all of the grownups in the room join in the dance.
Hip Hip Hoorays
Use this as a reward when your preschooler behaves appropriately in a situation or when they accomplish something. For example, if your preschooler shows good manners in the grocery store, you can reward them with Hip Hip Hoorays when you get to the car. Tell them what they did good and then shout “Hip Hip Hoorays” several times. If you are really silly and want to make an impact, give your preschooler Hip Hip Hoorays by jumping up and shouting in public. The kids love it and everyone ends up laughing.