5 Simple Steps to Protecting Your Preschooler That You Might Have Forgotten

Christian Parenting

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. 

 

10 Things I’m Doing to Help My Little Guys Become Men.

Christian Parenting

As a father of six, I feel the responsibility of the title “Dad”. Including my wife, I have seven people who depend greatly on me. As a result I often feel the pressure of making sure that I’m on my game. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 17 years of marriage, it’s that this doesn’t happen unless I’m constantly working on it. Two of my six children are “men in the making”. Every day I look at these little guys and I wonder what kind of men are they going to grow up to become. It’s my desire that they grow up with a strong faith and become great husbands, great dads, and great leaders.

Here are 10 Things I’m Doing to Help My Little Guys Become Men:

1. Let him help

I try to let my boys be hands-on in the things that I’m doing. When you’re letting them help, you’re teaching them skills.

2. Let him get messy

They’re boys… I just believe they need to get messy sometimes.

3. Let him get hurt

I want my boys to get 100 little cuts. It’s the lessons that are learned when they “test the boundaries” that save them from getting big cuts later on in life. Sometimes, we try so hard to protect them that we forget that failure is another good way to learn valuable lessons.

4. Tell him I love you and I’m sorry

My little guys need to know that I love them deeply. They also need to know that I’m sorry when I mess up. Expressing love and forgiveness are things that are Caught not Taught. So I need to show them how to do it right.

5. Shoot Something

We shoot the BB gun

We shoot Airsoft targets.

We shoot baskets

… Just go shoot something.

6.Go Camping 

We go hiking.

We go in the woods.

I let them “go” in the woods

We campout in your backyard.

I believe that all of these experiences turn little boys into men.

7. Wrestle 

Physical touch is huge with my boys. I wrestle with them. I throw him up in the air until they scream. I play too rough with them. I’m constantly teaching them to toughen up and the importance of fighting through pain.

8. Make him aware of his surroundings 

I’m teaching them to be aware of what’s going on around him. I teach them to be aware of shady characters in the parking lot. I teach them to be aware of other people’s feelings.

9. Explain “the why” behind what I do

Whether they asked for it or not, I want to explain why I’m doing what I’m doing. Part of the role of dad is to be a teacher. I want to let them know that there are reasons why I do what I do and it’s not always “because I said so”.

10. Let him know I love his mom

Above everything else I need to let them know that I love their mom. They need to know that I love her more than anyone else on this planet. They need to learn from me how to treat a woman with respect and dignity. They need to learn from me how to sacrifice, serve, and honor.

By no means am I perfect with all of these. I’m sure there are some weeks when I miss the mark on everyone of them. But when I miss it up, I just tell them I’m sorry and I go back out again. It’s a great thing that love covers a multitude of sins.

So if you’ve got boys – what’s on your list?

 

What to Do When Christian Parenting Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Christian Parenting

Christian Parenting

I want to take a minute to share an email that was sent to me this last week. After responding to this couple, I asked for their permission to share with you all and they graciously agreed. (Naturally, I’ve changed their names and bla bla bla,)

 Hey Joe, 

My son, says that his father and I are one of only a few parents that have such strong convictions re: music and internet access. He says we need to “Loosen up”. Sometimes I feel we must agree with him because it appears as if so many “Christian” families allow their kids unlimited access to all kinds of devices and allowed to play all kinds of violent games. Yet…our standard remains high. 

Do you find many fighting this battle …not so much against the “world” , but the body of believers they walk with each day. 

Fighting the battle but…it’s pretty hard!  

Your Friend

 

Dear Friend,

 I was going to joke with you and say that I didn’t find too many people fighting this battle…only the stuffy, nerdy Christians. Actually, Aime and I deal with this all the time. 

So here’s a couple pieces of advice.

 Make sure you’re not parenting from fear. 

Make sure that that he’s equipped and not just shielded. Our decisions need to grow their hearts and not just to shield it. Remember to keep your “voice” in his life. : Early Childhood-PROTECT, Elementary -TEACH, Middle School-MODEL, High School-COACH, Adulthood-MENTOR.

 Be careful as identifying your standards as “higher”. 

They might not be necessarily higher, they might just be different standards than another family… and different is good.

 The most important thing is that your and your husband are on the same page. 

If you are, it’s ok even if theres a million other parents not on our page.

Growing up, my mom had a saying (actually, she still has it) – when we wanted to do something that was different than our family standards and we asked “But Why?” She’d simply say, “Because WE don’t do that!”  

Not always right or wrong… sometimes it was just “we don’t do that”. – we’re different, and that’s ok.

As you can imagine, the conversation continued and as usual, nothing is ever “clean cut”. Nor is it ever as simple as following three simple pieces of advice. I want this friend and others to know that I actually spend time praying for situations like this. It’s so tough when we “see the enemy and he is us”. It’s tough when we feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, because our battle is not with “the world” but with other Christians.

My encouragement is this: You’re not alone! Keep emailing… keep connecting… and keep seeking help. God often times will meet with us through the encouragement of others.

The Parents Guide to Discipline

To spanking or not to spank, that is the question… for many parents today. Some families have chosen the route of “Time Out’s, or better yet – “Time In’s”. Well this is going to be short, sweet, and straight to the point. I’m not going to address whether spanking is biblical or abuse. I not doing to talk about 3 tips to keeping your child busy while he’s sitting with his nose in a corner (although I could since I’ve spent, what I remember to be, hours with my nose pressed in a corner). Instead, I’m going to give you 3 quick tips to choosing the best discipline for you children. Here they are:

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 12.46.11 AM

When you discipline your children you need to remember that: 

 1. There’s a difference between discipline and punishment  

Punishment is payment for doing wrong. Disciple is shaping actions and attitudes long-term. Discipline includes both the negative consequences” to our actions as well a the positive reinforcements.When I am disciplining my body for a race or a game I’m carful to exercise (i.e.. make my body physically uncomfortable) as well as feed my body healthy rewards such as good food and snacks.

 

Every parent need to be in the discipline field, NOT the punishment field. Trust me, discipline is better both short-term and long-term.

 2. Consistency is the key

I tell parents all the time that consistency is the key. It’s better to be consistently wrong than it is to be inconsistent. If you’re consistently wrong, at least you can apologize to your child and start moving down the right path. When you’re inconsistent they’ll never take you serious because they’ll know that all they have to do is wait a bit and you’ll change your mind.

 3. Shaping Character is more important than shaping actions

Too many parents are only looking for behavior modification. Their child does something that they don’t like or more times than not, is embarrassing, and they just want the child to stop. The only problem is that when the emphasis is placed on the action and not the heart behind the action it’s very common to change the behavior and not the heart. You’ll end up with a “good little child” only when you’re looking.

Our kids need help. They need to be disciplined. They need their character to be challenged and shaped. They need to know that you love them enough to stay in fight with them. You’re not going to let them grow up to be undisciplined but instead you’ll work with them now so that by the time they are adults they have strong patterns and behaviors that reflect a herat for God and others.

What’s your biggest challenge with your discipline? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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The Day I Threw My Son Into The Deep End of the Pool

Saturday I threw my son into the deep end of the pool… without his life vest! Ok, to be completely honest, I didn’t throw him in, he actually jumped in and I let him. I let him struggle. I let him go under once or twice. BUT guess what happened? He learned to swim. At 6 years old, I’m pretty sure he’s the youngest of my children to learn to swim and in all reality he taught himself. Here’s three lessons I learned from letting him struggle:

 

Deep End of the Pool

1. The struggle is needed.

Much like a butterfly exiting a cocoon, the struggle is necessary for survival. I’m reminded of all the times I have swooped in “rescued” my children from the struggle. I just hate to see them hurt. I hate to see them struggle, but guess what? It’s often times necessary. (*struggle doesn’t mean to drown needlessly)