Talking to Your Preschooler About the Human Body
Preschool children are very curious about their bodies and how they work. "Why?" seems to be their mantra as they ask what this is and what it does, over and over and over again. Helping our children understand their bodies and how to take care of them is part of our job as parents. The trick is doing it so children this age can understand.
Keep It Simple
Stacy DeBroff, President and founder of Mom Central, Inc., a company devoted to providing pragmatic tips and advice to strengthen busy families and enhance the home environment, believes that while preschoolers are curious about their bodies and need to know the basics, they usually don't want or understand more than that
"As a parent, the temptation is to go into more details than kids this age care about," says DeBroff. "So the best technique is to keep it simple, and then ask if your child has any other questions...at which point they have likely already run off to play with a toy."
Keep It Fun
Games, like Simon Says, that name the body parts or reinforce them are wonderful at this age. Debroff suggests starting with the basics, then adding details like eyelashes or "named fingers" like pinky or pointer. As your child becomes more adept, throw in some toughies like pupil of your eye, or one nostril. Make your children laugh by including some just plain silly ones like funny bone or baby toe.
Debroff gives the following tips to introduce the human body to your preschooler:
- Now is the time to talk about basic body privacy with kids -- about keeping their hands to themselves (i.e. when frustrated) and other people keeping their hands off your child's private areas. It's sad, but something you have to at least introduce in a broad way to your child.
- You have to start talking about body cleanliness...about a bath or shower every day, washing hands after playing outside or before eating.
- It helps to frame "being sick" to your child as a time when your body is trying to get better and fighting off the germs -- so coughing or even throwing up become valiant efforts of your body to help you get better. And symptoms like fever help you know you need to take extra care of your body.
- This is a great age to start talking about basic nutrition -- foods that help give your body energy and foods that are not as good for your body.
- Don't forget the old classic songs that make body parts fun such as, "Head, shoulders, knees and toes!" or "The thigh bone's connected to the shin bone..."