“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss
“Mommy, look my muscles?!”
I remember it like it was yesterday when my youngest son who was three years old at the time came running into the kitchen to show me his BIG arm muscles after doing some push-ups with his daddy… Or at least his version of push-ups which looked more like a version of the worm LOL!
The joy on his face and the pride in his voice was such a heart-warmer in the midst of cleaning up the usual, never ending mess that ensues when living with littles. His puffed up chest and strong mighty fists to show me his bestest Hulk strong muscle pose was absolutely priceless!
“Look at those big, strong muscles!” I exclaimed as I hugged and kissed my boy. “Mama is so proud of you!”
If you find yourself in the season of parenting a 3-4 year old or even looking back on the early years when your now teen was little, it is hard not to love the “Look at me mommy!” moments or “Watch this dad!” as they discover the world around them and all they are capable of doing.
This begs the question…
What is happening during the 3-4 year old years physically?
What is happening intellectually during this stage of development?
3-4 Year Old’s: Physical Development
During the years of three and four, early motor skills that children need to be successful on and beyond their youth sports involvements as well as in the early academic setting are just beginning to come on line.
At this stage of our children’s physical development, we tend to see lower muscle tone and lack of spatial awareness:
· When we ask kiddos to sit up straight at this age and stage of development, some kiddos struggle to be able to do so and end up collapsing their core, tummy after a few seconds into a slouch position. Why? Because their tummy muscles are not yet strong enough to keep them in “crisscross applesauce,” straight back position for a long duration of time.
· Further, spatial awareness, where their bodies are in relation to things and the people around them, is actively developing at this age and stage of development. The proprioceptive and vestibular senses are growing and evolving each and every day as children experience more and more through the power of play.
3-4 Year Old’s: Intellectual Development
At this age and stage of development, children though expanding their vocabulary daily are still quite limited in their ability to verbalize what they are thinking, feeling, experiencing in a given moment. This is a season of great development intellectually via visual and kinesthetic experiences!
Because the vocabulary of a 3-4 year old is limited to about 250-500 words, it is understandably challenging at times for them to comprehend verbal only instructions. Further, multi-step directions pose a challenge to children of this age group as their frontal lobe continues to develop.
Knowing what we know about the physical and intellectual stages of development for 3-4 year olds, how are our team of Pediatric Ninja Specialists supporting children on and beyond the mats to flourish in these areas?
1. Developing muscle strength
a. By having our ninjas enjoy purposeful exercises whether active, dynamic or static, we are helping to support the simultaneous engagement of multiple muscle groups.
2. Increasing Coordination and Balance
a. Through purposeful exercises and simultaneous engagement of multiple muscle groups, bilateral coordination is being strengthened as well as balance through development, concentration on supporting the core.
3. Encouraging Skill Development
a. By engaging the brain on and beyond the mats in neurobics, mental exercises that enhance the brain’s performance while stimulating neural growth, language development needed to help support the voice of our children as well as the ability to understand and comprehend verbal instructions is all being strengthened tremendously!
Every part of why we do what we do is with the purposeful intention of ensuring the whole mind, body and spirit of your child is supported.
It takes a village to raise our littles and we at DFK are honored to be a part of your tribe of support!
About the Author
Meg Klettke is the proud owner alongside her husband, Alex of Family Strong Sussex, a SKILLZ Lifetime Gold studio in Southeastern Wisconsin. With a background in traditional and alternative therapeutics, Meg is an active advocate for today’s youth. Her passion for supporting and nurturing the whole child resonates through all she does as a Proud Ninja Mom of two boys with special needs, Certified Pediatric Ninja Specialist and Content Creator for SKILLZ Worldwide.