Just the other day I walked into the kitchen to find my four-year-old daughter helping my three-year-old son onto a Tupperware container… which was balancing on top of another Tupperware container. Without thinking, I yelled “get down!” Of course, my sudden shouting scared my son causing him to shift his weight suddenly and sent him falling to his doom. In one fluid motion I dove on the floor catching my little guy only to look up to see my daughter rearranging the containers in order to make a second attempt. There are so many days my wife and I feel as though we are one minute away from either the emergency room… or the circus.
Preschoolers are tough on parents. They keep us moving as fast as our hearts can race. It’s tough, but it’s what we do. It’s what this phase is all about… PROTECTING !
With this in mind, I want to remind us of five simple steps that we often times forget when protecting our preschoolers.
Remember – Everything sits on a foundation… it’s up to you to make sure that it’s a solid one.
Deuteronomy 6:7-9 says “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The very best way that we can protect our kids is by making sure that was laid the foundation of God’s ownership of our lives. This challenge is first and foremost a challenge for us to have an active, living, relationship with Christ… and only after that are we to pass this on to our children.
One key in this discipleship process is to not wait until your children are older to begin to try to instill these disciplines. Patterns such as personal Bible study, Scripture memorization, prayer, and celebrating God’s blessings, first have to be formed in us. Even when our kids are very young we can begin these patterns. As our kids are raised in this environment they “marinate” in God’s goodness. They grow up only knowing God’s hand of provision. As a result, their young lives begin on the foundation of God’s promises.
Remember – It’s their job to explore and your job to keep them safe while they do it.
Practically speaking, one of the hardest part of our job as parents is to keep them physically safe while they are learning to crawl, walk, run, and explore. It’s during the stage that I often have to remind myself that “it’s their job to explore and my job to keep them safe”. There are some days it may feel like a never-ending task, but I have to remind myself that this is just a season and to try to not get too frustrated.
Remember – It’s important to be consistent
I’ve written about this many times… consistency, consistency, consistency! This is true when they’re in college. This is true when they’re in high school… and middle school… and elementary… and it’s especially true as preschoolers. Consistency builds stability. So try to keep some consistency in your daily patterns, your rules, and your discipline.
Remember – Have realistic expectations
This is one of the biggest traps that I see young parents fall into. We expect our children to always be quiet, compliant, and happy. I have met so many parents with the expectation that their four-year-old will be the one who is able to sit on a hard wooden pew for over an hour without moving or talking. These same parents often times get frustrated when the little guy/gal gets up to two or three times throughout the night. I try to remind these parents that there are very few adults that can sit still for over an hour on a wooden pew and that I’m up at least three times every night… and I’m 38!
Lets keep our expectations at the appropriate level. A 2 year old will act and behave like a 2 year old most of the time.
Remember – Your not alone
The biggest encouragement that I have to offer parents is the fact that you’re not alone. Too many times parents feel like they’re the only ones who are struggling with the a particular struggle.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 – “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.”
When it get’s tough, remember : Others have done this and “This too shall pass.”
When it’s all smooth sailing and you feel like you’ve got this parenting thing licked just remember : Others have said that too and “This too shall pass”.
You’re not alone! We’ve all been there… and most of us have lived to tell the tale.