Preschoolers are complicated creatures. They’re mostly sweet and irresistible. Yet they can also be master manipulators. And sometimes the trickiest thing is figuring out just how much they have figured out…

It’s true that preschoolers depend on us for most of their needs. As loving parents, we quite naturally want to meet their needs… all of their needs: food needs, drink needs, reaching or wiping or climbing or sleeping needs. It seems the list goes on and on.

But today I pose the question: What do preschoolers REALLY NEED?

I have a little list here, with a breakdown of what preschoolers NEED and what they really DON’T NEED.

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1. Food

NEED: They need to eat every day! Ideally, a little something from all of the food groups. Healthy food is good. And water – plenty of good, clean water.

DON’T NEED: Trendy food labels, 100% organic, every treat their friends have, or any specific brand (those are fine if you want them, but they won’t make or break you as a parent). Also: constant snacks, juice boxes, or soda.

2. Shelter

NEED: They need a safe and secure home that is sanitary and comforting. A bed to sleep in.

DON’T NEED: Their own room. Designer bedding. A television or computer in their room. A device of any kind.

3. Safety

NEED: To be kept alive, safe and out of harm’s way. This includes being kept off of busy streets; away from fires, hot stoves, sharp objects, perverts and the multitude of dangers that a preschooler may face on any given day.

DON’T NEED: Helicopter parenting. You can keep your eye on them and still give them some room to roam. A few scrapes and bruises will teach lessons and will not do any permanent damage. Cause and effect are some of the best educators.

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