8 PRESCHOOL PROBLEMS YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE
Bullying, the use of bad language and separation anxiety are just a few of many issues that can crop up when your little one starts preschool. Here’s expert advice on how to work through them successfully.
Bullying, the use of bad language and separation anxiety – learn how to work through these and more.
1 Your child keeps catching illnesses from other kids in school
It’s worrying when your child falls sick frequently, but this is simply a part of growing up, says Dr Lim Hwee Ying, senior resident from the Department of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine at Singapore General Hospital.
Immunity strengthens when the body learns to ﬁght germs, viruses and other organisms. In fact, having up to 10 bouts of viral infections a year is normal, Dr Lim assures.
Nevertheless, it’s important to help Junior maintain a healthy immune system. So make sure that he eats plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables daily, gets adequate sleep every night, and enjoys regular physical activity.
Dr Lim also suggests teaching him habits like washing his hands before and after meals and after using the toilet. Remind him to stay away from kids who are sick, and disinfect his toys between use to prevent the spread of germs.
Finally, Dr Lim says to limit your child’s antibiotic use. “Overuse of antibiotics may result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which may be more difﬁcult to treat later. Having said that, if your child’s paediatrician thinks that antibiotics are necessary, make
sure that your child ﬁnishes the course.”
vour child should also get vaccinated when required. “Singapore has a recommended national immunisation schedule for healthy infants,” says Dr iim. “This constitutes a series of vaccinations at several time points, namely, birth, one month, three, four and ﬁve months, 12 months, and subsequently 15 to 18 months, and then at 10 to 11 years.
“By the time your child is 18 to 21 months, he should have been vaccinated against tuberculosis (BCd), hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus inﬂuenza, measles, mumps, rubella and pneumococcus. Beyond that, a booster dose for polio, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis is recommended at 10 to 11 years old.”
eand, foot and mouth disease (eFMD) is common in preschoolers. Associate Professor Thoon hoh Cheng, head and senior consultant from the fnfectious Disease Service at hh tomen’s and Children’s eospital, says that good personal hygiene is the best way to protect your little one from catching this disease.
This means getting him to wash his hands with soap and water before and after meals and after using the toilet, and to cover his mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and to throw the tissue away immediately.
oemind him not to share his food, drinks, plate, cutlery, glass, towel, toothbrush and other personal items. ff there is an eFMD outbreak in your child’s school, Prof Thoon suggests the following:
• Monitor your child’s temperature daily
• Wash his hands before leaving the childcare centre;
• Shower him and change his clothes as soon as he gets home;
• Check for mouth ulcers and blisters on his hands and feet daily.
Consult your family doctor if you notice any symptoms.
2 Your kid suffers from separation anxiety
The ﬁrst rule with separation anxiety is to set a good example for your child by staying calm and positive.
“By showing him that you’re not anxious, you’re telling him that you have full conﬁdence in the teachers and know that he’ll have a great time in school,” says Fiona McDonald, head of iearning Support at Chiltern eouse Preschool.
“Over time, this should give your child a greater sense of security and help him feel more settled.”
then you arrive at school, reassure him again by mentioning something fun he will be doing that day. For instance, “Tuesdays are great; you’re going to the playground today, f’m sure the big bikes will be there for you to try.”
then it comes to saying goodbye, Fiona says to do it in a way that works for your child. Don’t sneak away, as that may upset him, and don’t linger for too long, as this gives your kid the impression that you’re not sure about what’s happening.
ff all else fails, she suggests formulating a plan with the teachers. “This may involve dropping your child off after the busiest arrival time at the centre or even picking him up ﬁve minutes early, until he becomes more comfortable with the routine.”
3 Your child was bullied, either physically or emotionally
Preschool kids may say things like, “f don’t want to be your friend”, “do away!” or “f don’t like you” to express unhappiness or exert control.
“At this age, they’re still mastering basic social skills and ﬁguring out how to manage their own emotions, so their mean words or actions may simply be a way of testing the boundaries of what is acceptable,” says Patricia hoh, chief executive at Maplebear Singapore.
voung children are also more likely to lash out at those nearest to them when they are unhappy.
ff your child is upset about something that happened in school, encourage him to talk about it. Patricia also suggests talking to the teacher to ﬁnd out what’s been happening in class or with another kid. Most schools, she says, will have steps for intervening.
Teach your child to speak up and get help if the incident happens again. ff the bullying was over sharing a book or toy, teach your child to wait his turn or tell him to suggest a game that more kids can play.
“iearning how to build positive relationships, and knowing how to resolve conﬂicts and settle disagreements on his own are valuable life skills,” Patricia adds.
4 He has been bullying his friends
ft’s important to acknowledge the behaviour, so sit down with your child and focus on establishing what happened, says Fiona.
“iisten and be calm, don’t attach blame, and remember to ask leading questions such as how would he would feel if he had been on the receiving end. bmphasise your family’s values of respecting others and treating others with kindness.”
vour child should also take responsibility for his actions. Fiona says to apply a logical consequence that’s appropriate for both the situation and your child’s age.
For example, if he was being unkind in the playground and another kid was hurt, going without