At the preschool age, children still rely on others for a large portion of their needs. However, they are starting to understand some of their needs and how to fill them. One need that is a constant in cooler climates, is warmth. Children, at this age, know that if they are cold they should go inside or put a coat on. Due to their level of activity, they lose heat faster then adults and need help maintaining their warmth. This image shows a group of preschool age children all dressed in their winter coats, mittens, and hats. Unfortunately for parents, they don't yet recognize the important role the items play in fulfilling the need for warmth. They often need reminders to put them on and they frequently lose the items. They do not yet have the cognitive ability to think "if I don't have my coat, I will be cold" rather their thought of filling the need happens later when they are already cold.
Preschool age children need a lot of direction and order to maintain their safety needs. Having rules, laws, and limits helps children in this period learn how to meet all of their safety needs. They are at an point in their lives when learning about the importance of following these rules can have a direct impact on their future. Learning that the laws, limits, and rules are there to help them can have a lasting effect. Too often children see rules as an obstacle instead of a tool. This can create issues for children later in life as they may become delinquent adolescents. In this picture, students are learning the rules and laws of walking in public. Simple rules, like stopping at a crosswalk, can ensure the children remain safe and secure.
Belonging and Love Needs
During this period opportunities open up for children to meet their social needs. Preschool is when you start to learn how to make and retain relationships with others your age. While their idea of friendship will change as they age, it is during this time that they begin to play with others. Towards the end of the preschool period, children begin associative play, where two or more children interact by borrowing or sharing. They also use cooperative play, where they are genuinely interacting with each other by taking turns and participating in games. This image shows three girls beginning to form bonds and learning what they are looking for in a friendship.
Children this age want recognition and rewards. They look for ways to fill the need for positive attention and respect. They enjoy knowing that they are getting attention and will do the thing they know will get others to appreciate their presence. A good example of this in action is when a young child does something that gets others to laugh or smile, the child will continue doing the action over and over because he enjoys the positive attention. In this image a four year old from Oxford, MI, won a scholarship for participating in a summer reading program. By participating in the program and winning the scholarship the child is filling his need for recognition and achievement. The child will likely have a good perspective on how hard work equals rewards as he ages.
Preschool age children are just starting to grasp the "self-concept". They are getting a feeling of who they are and their abilities. However, their concept of self is not often accurate. Children this age usually over estimate their capabilities. This is why they tend to have an overly positive outlook on their future. They may feel like they are the fastest kid in the world, or can jump higher than anyone their age. They do start to express their personality more at this age, which is a step towards self actualization. While they are still a long way from self actualization, they are more aware than in previous periods. They still have an individualistic orientation in that they have not began to think about where they fit in society. This picture is actually one of my niece. She is a good example of an inflated sense of self. That is not necessarily a bad thing for this age group. Children this age often feel that the are "the best" at everything they do. This is all part of the process of discovering who they are.