holding hands

Preschoolers might be able to control their impulses and feelings better. For more information on infant developmental milestones, click here

Preschooler: Feelings & Behavior


Read about the importance of routines. Help your child move from one activity to another:
  • Make a picture schedule to put on the refrigerator or wall.
  • Let your child know that he has 5 more minutes to play before cleaning up his toys for bath time. Set a timer so that the child can see and hear when the 5 minutes is up.
Read books about feelings with your child. Look at the pictures and talk about how the character is feeling.


Help your child explore how to get along with others. When children are encouraged to think about others' feelings and needs, they tend to get along better with their peers.
Explore feelings with your child. What does it feel like to be happy, sad, or mad? Talk about how to share feelings.
Explore the power of humor and games. Add fun to everyday tasks, such as putting on shoes to see how high you can jump!
Explore choices! See what happens when you offer your child two choices.
  • If your child asks for cookies before dinner, you can say, “You sound hungry. If you want to eat something, you can have an apple or some carrots.”
  • If he still asks for cookies, calmly repeat what you said until he either chooses an apple, carrots, or nothing.


Ask your child to talk about what he is feeling. You can use pictures to help him explain.
  • What’s making you feel that way?
  • Let’s talk about it.
Ask your child to admit when they make a mistake. Explain that everyone makes mistakes.The important thing is to admit it and then try to fix it.
Ask your child to help with simple chores such as picking up toys and dirty clothes.


Discover your child’s signs that he is hungry, tired, or frustrated and respond consistently and predictably.
Discover how redirecting is often the best strategy. If your child is upset because he is waiting for a turn on the swing, try to redirect his attention to an equally fun opportunity. “Why don’t we go down the slide together while you wait?”
Help your child discover how to solve problems independently. When she describes a problem, listen, and help her brainstorm a variety of solutions.
Discover how effective it is to be clear and consistent. Always explain and show your child what behaviors you expect. Whenever you do say no, make sure you follow up with what you would like her to do.


Play games, sing songs, and read stories with feeling words.
  • Sing “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” You can add verses like “If you’re angry and you know it, stop and think.”
  • Ask your child to guess what feeling you are showing on your face.
  • When you read stories, talk about what the characters in the story are feeling.
Use activities—like drawing, music, or dance—to give your child a chance to express feelings.
Give your child opportunities to play with other children. If he is not enrolled in preschool, take him to the playground or story time at your public library.