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Parenting Help

Parenting is the most difficult and important thing most of us will ever do.  There is no handbook, no 'right' way of doing things and that just makes it more difficult.  


Different childhood stages come with their own problems and we often don't know what is 'normal' or to be expected. Staff in early years settings like First Steps will have studied and had training in these and are a great resource for parents.  

Our staff can help with advice on how common family problems/changes (splits, death or illness in the family, moving to a new home or having a new baby) can affect your child and how that behaviour may be expressed.  They can answer questions on what you can expect at different stages or ways to cope with new behaviours.

Emotional And Behavioural Stages of 2-4 Year Olds - What To Expect

A 2-3 Year Old:

  • Shows signs of empathy and caring: comforts another child if hurt or frightened; appears to sometimes be overly affectionate in offering hugs and kisses to children
  • Continues to use physical aggression if frustrated or angry (for some children, this is more exaggerated than for others); Physical aggression usually lessens as verbal skills improve.
  • Temper tantrums likely to peak during this year; extremely difficult to reason with during a tantrum.
  • Is impatient; finds it difficult to wait or take turns.
  • Enjoys "helping" with household chores; imitates everyday activities: may try to toilet train a stuffed animal, feed a doll.
  • "Bossy" with parents and caregivers; orders them around, makes demands, expects immediate compliance from adults.
  • Watches and imitates the play of other children, but seldom interacts directly; plays near others, often choosing similar toys and activities (parallel play); solitary play is often simple and repetitive.
  • Offers toys to other children, but is usually possessive of playthings; still tends to hoard toys.
  • Making choices is difficult; wants it both ways.
  • Often defiant; shouting "no" becomes automatic.
  • Ritualistic; wants everything "just so"; routines carried out exactly as before; belongings placed "where they belong."

A 4 Year Old

  • Outgoing; friendly; overly enthusiastic at times.
  • Moods change rapidly and unpredictably; laughing one minute, crying the next; may throw tantrum over minor frustrations (a block structure that will not balance); sulk over being left out.
  • Imaginary playmates or companions are common; holds conversations and shares strong emotions with this invisible friend.
  • Boasts, exaggerates, and "bends" the truth with made-up stories or claims of boldness; tests the limits with "bathroom" talk.
  • Co-operates with others; participates in group activities.
  • Shows pride in accomplishments; seeks frequent adult approval.
  • Often appears selfish; not always able to take turns or to understand taking turns under some conditions; tattles on other children.
  • Insists on trying to do things independently, but may get so frustrated as to verge on tantrums when problems arise: paint that drips, paper airplane that will not fold right.
  • Enjoys role-playing and make-believe activities.
  • Relies (most of the time) on verbal rather than Physical aggression; may yell angrily rather than hit to make a point; threatens: "You can't come to my birthday party"
  • Name-calling and taunting are often used as ways of excluding other children.
  • Establishes close relationships with playmates; beginning to have "best" friends.

Money, Housing, Safety in the Home and Problem Solving

Parenting problems are definitely not limited to how to look after your children.  Suddenly all life's issues become more urgent because this precious little life is dependent on you.  Your options and the law are constantly changing.  

The most up to date information is available at the Parent Pit Stop, run by Dorchester and Broadmayne Children's Centres.  You can contact Broadmayne Centre on 01305 852843 or look on the Dorset For You website which also gives details of all the groups offered.