Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers

Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers helps parents interact positively with children. It provides proven answers to common challenges so moms, dads, and caregivers can help two- to four-year-olds grow up happy and healthy.

  • Communicating with Children: Learn skills like praise and active listening
  • Creating Structure: Set expectations using family rules, reward charts, and daily schedules
  • Giving Directions: Encourage listening by giving simple directions
  • Using Discipline & Consequences: Get behaviors you want to happen more
  • Using Time-Out: Know when, where, and how to implement time-out

Read free articles, watch videos, and practice exercises for building positive relationships with kids. These techniques can reduce stress while developing a bond that’s safe, stable, and nurturing.

A woman stacking blocks with her young son while instructing him

Giving good directions can help reduce the chance that a child will forget or misunderstand what a parent has said.

Praise and active listening are helpful for good communication with toddlers and preschoolers

Praise and active listening are helpful for good communication with toddlers and preschoolers

Clearly letting children know what they did wrong can prevent future misbehavior.

Clearly letting children know what they did wrong can prevent future misbehavior.

Melissa Merrick, CDC Behavioral Scientist and Child Clinical Psychologist, discusses positive parenting skills in Essentials for Parenting videos.

Melissa Merrick, CDC Behavioral Scientist and Child Clinical Psychologist, discusses positive parenting skills in Essentials for Parenting videos.

Graphic about

Essentials for Parenting is a free online resource addressing common parenting challenges with toddlers and preschoolers.

Time-out involves removing a child from what she enjoys and where misbehavior occurred.

Time-out involves removing a child from what she enjoys and where misbehavior occurred.

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokespersons

“Parenting can be tough for everyone. CDC’s Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers has tips and tools to strengthen parenting skills like positive communication, giving good directions, and effective discipline.”

“When parents have questions about things that are happening with their children, they often begin looking for answers from a trusted source. This CDC resource is based on the best-available evidence about what works well when parenting toddlers and preschoolers.”

Beverly L. Fortson, PhD – Behavioral Scientist, Research and Evaluation Branch, Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Biography

Joanne Klevens, MD, PhD, MPH

Every child and every parent is unique, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. With CDC’s Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers, our hope is to give you new ideas for parenting so you can make the best decisions about what can work with your child and family.

Joanne Klevens, MD, PhD, MPH – Epidemiologist, Sexual Violence and Child Maltreatment Team, Research and Evaluation Branch, Division of Violence Prevention

Page last reviewed: September 14, 2017