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A spirited child needs a preschool or daycare center that understands and values individual differences. A structured, predictable schedule is also vital for an intense child. For example, if your toddler knows that snack comes after playtime and that he gets to go outdoors after circle time, he won't waste his energy getting anxious about these things.
Visit the preschools you're considering to see firsthand what your toddler will be doing during the day. Here are some things to look for:
- Is there a quiet corner or nook where your toddler can go for time alone? A place to regroup is a must for an intense child.
- What's the student-teacher ratio? Does the school group all the children together or divide them up? Spirited kids tend to do better in small groups because they get more personalized attention.
- Note how the teachers respond to the kids: Do they really listen to them? Do they seem to genuinely care about what's happening in their lives? Are they patient?
- Also observe how they discipline children. Good teachers don't just address unwanted behavior, they try to understand the emotions behind it. When a child acts out, do they say, "She's just doing that to get attention." Or do they try to pinpoint what's truly going on? When teachers ask thoughtful questions like, "Are you missing your mommy?" or "Are you upset because you can't reach the toys on that shelf?" it shows that they're interested in helping children identify and cope with their frustrations.
Follow your gut too. Can you picture your child there? Would you like to spend time there each day? A preschool or daycare center that respects children's feelings and teaches them how to handle difficult emotions is likely to be a place where a spirited child will blossom.