Find resources / Articles / Happy and healthy — Parenting a 3-year-old

Happy memories reflect a happy childhood. Using simple tasks and activities, whānau can create happy, healthy experiences for their child.

Your child: 3 to 5 years(external link) – in this video on the Ministry of Health website, we meet parents Ria and Barry, who have 2 tamariki aged 3 and 4. They talk about caring for their children and working towards their goals for their children – to grow up happy and healthy.

Ria and Barry share the things that are important for them and their children.

Here are some suggestions to help start a conversation with the whānau.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What do you think of Ria and Barry’s kōrero?
  • What do you think about the goals they talk about?
  • Ria says that being a parent is difficult but has the best rewards. What do you think she means by this?
  • What are your thoughts about being a parent?

Remember the simple things

Ria and Barry talk about making memories: skateboards, drawing, gardening. It doesn’t have to be anything special or grand.

  • What were some happy memories from your childhood?
  • Are there any particular activities that come to mind, such as beach trips, walks in the ngahere, ball games, picnics, tree climbing?
  • What memories are your tamariki building now?
  • What memories would you like them to have?
  • What can you do about it?
  • What do you think about the advice that Erika, the Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse, gives?
  • Are there any questions you’d like to ask your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse?
  • Would you like to put some questions together for your nurse?

Titiro ki ‘ngā ara mātua’

Ngā ara mātua help us focus on the wellbeing and security of our tamariki.

Ask the whānau if there are any ideas they want to try. Some new routines or activities can be refreshing and enjoyable to add into the family’s day-to-day existence.

Even simple things like spending some time every day playing and being with our child can make a difference. Although it sounds pretty basic, sometimes the reality of parenting is we get distracted with other things and the day flies by. So, it’s a matter of doing the simple things but doing them every day and being fully engaged with our tamaiti when we do them.

Having a few simple rules – and sticking to them. Again it sounds simple, but it’s very easy to forget or let it slip. And we need to follow through on things ourselves if we want to help our tamariki to make some positive changes, too.

Suggest to whānau that you work out a few simple tasks together, either from the suggestions in ngā ara mātua or by making up something especially for their tamaiti.

All the self-care things like teeth cleaning, dressing themselves, sitting down to eat a healthy meal or avoiding sweet or unhealthy kai can be looked at in the same way as ngā ara mātua. They are all about guiding our tamaiti on a path towards health and happiness.

As Heru says in Whakatipu booklet Te Māhuri 1 (page 3), "My whānau says it’s all right for me to eat heaps of healthy kai, not too much sugar though!"

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Whakarangatira ahau – make me feel special – looking after all my needs and taking care of me will help me feel respected and loved

Six things children need – Te hanga ao tōtika, ao haumaru – structured and secure world – because kids feel happy and relaxed when they know what’s going on and there are regular mealtimes and other routines

Helpful resources for whānau