How Do I Brush Up My Child’s Skills?

I hope your kids are settling well into school. I hope you’re starting to find your groove and routine again.

I am really enjoying the freedom. I’ve gotten so much done over the last couple of weeks! It’s been fantastic. All good things.

Something that is coming up quite a bit over the last two weeks though is that a lot of kids have kind of forgotten how to be functioning human beings.

They’re struggling with some of the skills necessary to function in a classroom because they haven’t been in care or at school for a long time.

Skills to brush up on with your child.

Alright, so our poor pandemic kiddos are having a bit of a rough go.

I think we all expected this.

It’s been at least 18 months since a lot of our kids had a semi-normal school or care experience, and it’s still not really normal…most places still have mask mandates.

They’re still structuring days to reduce the amount of interactions kids have, and so much more.

It’s a lot to adjust to and since most of them got used to more of a home schedule, it’s taking a bit for them to get there.


The main skill I’m hearing from parents about is turn-taking because they’ve been at home.

Even when they were in-person classes they couldn’t share stuff!

They were all using separate supplies and obviously at home there was, at best, siblings to have to negotiate supplies with…Which is a very different dynamic.

Now that they’re in class and they’re having to negotiate toys and resources with other kids who haven’t been taught the same rules- there’s conflict brewing.

The best way to address this with young kids is to role-play and give them some scripts to us when they find themselves in a conflict.

Remember, when emotions are running high words get hard, they lose access to them, by giving them pre-made scripts they can pull out, and giving them practice using them, it makes it a bit easier.

When I say scripts I mean like:

“Excuse me, I’m using this right now. I’ll give it to you when I’m done.”

“I would like to use that- can I have it when you’re done?”

“After you, it’s Aava’s turn and then it’s my turn.”

Give them the words. Practice using them.

Practice makes perfect and if you really want to kick it up a notch, write it into a story for them.

Stories make it so much easier for our kids to process and retain information.

They’re amazing teaching tools.

If you find your young child is struggling to remember boundaries or scripts or strategies…

Write a story about it! Read it to them often!


Standing in line. Waiting their turn. Being patient for things they want.

Now, listen, this is a skill pretty much every child on the face of this earth struggles with regularly.

Impulse control which is one of the 8 executive functioning skills we walk about so much in ParentAbility.

This only starts to develop around age 2 and don’t finish till around age 25-28.

Therefore, your 3 or 4 or 5 year old is like, barely into it.

It’s a new skill on the whole. What’s making it harder right now is that they didn’t have many opportunities to practice using it over the last year and a half.

These skills only develop when we use them, and practice them.


There are so many opportunities to practice these skills at home!

Even something as simple as giving them food that’s a bit too hot. They have to stop themselves from immediately shoving it in their mouth that’s impulse control.

Practice waiting while everyone else gets something before they do…that’s impulse control.

Impulse control is one of the skills we spend a tone of time on in ParentAbility because it really shows up almost everywhere and it can really cause a lot of problems.

Therefore, practice practice practice, and expect that they’re going to fail!

Many parents will say “we’ve done this like 10 times and they still can’t do it competently.”

Well no… they need to practice it literally thousands of times to become competent at it…

Keep practicing!

Sense of Urgency

They’re slow because again if you’ve been home for the last 18 months with nowhere really to go.

I mean, I think it’s fair to say the world as a whole has lost a lot of our sense of urgency.

Now that we do have places to be and things to do, we’re picking up where we left off and they have no memory of the before times.

Eighteen months is a long time for a 2-6 year old.

They genuinely don’t remember that faster pace of life, so they can’t just flip a switch and go back to it.

To combat this I really recommend making time as concrete as possible, but also just anticipate that transitions are going to take a little longer and plan for that.

The Time Timer is my favourite way to make time concrete, it’s a visual timer.

Another simple ways to make time concrete is use the length of a familiar song.

Whether that’s a song you sing out loud or a song you play on your phone or through a smart speaker.

This is why clean- up songs are so popular!

Sand timers are great and you can find them everywhere. There are apps for visual timers.

All sorts of options for making time concrete!

Use your tools!

What else are your kids struggling with with back-to-school or daycare?

I’d love for you to tell me in the comments.

You can also find me in the Parenting Posse and we can talk about it over there. Don’t hesitate to tag me!

This is a difficult transition for everyone, and we need to normalize that and problem solve through that.

Every parent seems to be under the impression that their child is the only one with a certain problem:

Mine’s the only one who won’t stand in line.

Mine’s the only one who can’t get their shoes on.

Mine’s the only one who doesn’t listen at circle time…whatever.

I guarantee you they aren’t, and I also guarantee you that three is a solution to the problem.

Let’s problem solve!

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About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

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