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Your 5-year-old now
Your child sees a fallen tree. "How did that happen?" she asks. She's ready and eager for a detailed explanation of how lightning came out of the sky in a storm and knocked down the tree.
Five-year-olds are fascinated by cause-and-effect relationships, the how and why of the way things work. What will happen when she stomps in that mud puddle really hard? What if an egg fell out of a bird's nest? If she can imagine it, she wants to know what the result might be.
As kids learn to predict what will happen, they can also relate cause and effect to their own behavior. They know their actions have consequences. If your child swats her little brother, she realizes her sibling may cry and that she'll probably spend some time in the naughty chair. If she's horsing around in the house with a ball, she knows she might break something.
To help your child better understand cause and effect, ask "what if" questions. "What if you forgot to bring your lunch today?" "What if a flying saucer landed in our yard?" The plausibility of the situation matters less than the process of thinking it through. Your child is likely to come up with some clever — and wild — explanations. And you'll be exercising her brain in the process.
"What if" questions are a favorite of young children. Resist the urge to dismissively reply that something isn't possible. Instead, offer a logical answer that illustrates what could really happen.
Your life now
Having an argument with your partner? Do your best to keep it under wraps around your child. Young children have sharp antennae for discord, and it can result in stress that upsets their sense of safety and security.
If you're having a disagreement related to childrearing, navigate it with respect for one another. You both have the same goal, after all: A healthy, happy child. Sometimes you may need to agree to disagree until you can work through the difference of opinion later.
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