Hey Friends — Today I am sharing a post from my most-read series of “What our sons need most….” I hope you enjoy, even if you were around years ago when I first published it. 🙂 (Maybe you have a friend with a preschooler? If so I hope you’ll share this post with them!)
RAISING A PRESCHOOLER.
If you’ve been around a while you know that I love to talk about the tween and teenage years. I love seeing all of the work of the earlier years coming together and taking shape in the form of an emerging human…Complete with gifts and talents, personality, character qualities and all kinds of potential.
Yet of course, all of these things begin much earlier. Last week I shared a post about the Elementary years, which is — no-doubt, foundational to the teenage years. But even before our kids hit elementary age, they are little humans: Babies, then toddlers, and then preschoolers.
And today, we pause there. Preschool.
Preschoolers are little sponges; just waiting to be molded and shaped by the influences in their life. They are curious and funny and…downright exhausting. And though some people love the preschool years, I confess that these years were some of the hardest for me in my parenting.
In fact, my fourth son Levi might have challenged and humbled me the most. Raised by the same parents as his brothers, this one has been entirely his own person.
And there are so many factors that play into that. From birth order, to the stage and busyness (and age!) of the parents. No two kids will ever be alike, and that…Keeps life interesting, doesn’t it?
But it’s true: Preschoolers are not simple, nor straight-forward. And if you have one, then you will probably agree that they can be as sweet as pie, or as frustrating as…Well–
as frustrating as could possibly be.
Preschoolers seem to have so many needs. Food needs, drink needs, needs reaching or wiping or climbing or sleeping. It seems the list goes on and on.
But today we ask: What do preschoolers REALLY NEED?
You’ll notice that the first few categories on my list are broken down into “what they NEED” and “what they DON’T NEED.” Because let’s face it–This stuff can be confusing.
NEED: Nourishment every day. A little something from all of the food groups. Hopefully something healthy. Plenty of 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 don’t “need:” Constant snacks, juice boxes, or soda.
NEED: A safe and secure home that is sanitary and filled with love. A bed to sleep on.
DON’T NEED: Their own room. Designer bedding. A t.v. or computer in their room…Anything to keep up with…anyone.
NEED: To be kept alive on a daily basis. Kept out 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.
NEED: The security of knowing that they will have some focused attention every day. One-on-one time regularly. Parents who love them, cheer for them, and set boundaries for their safety and well being.
DON’T NEED: As much attention as they’ll try to convince you they need. “Come here Mom,” “Watch this!” “Swing me again, Dad,” “Stay here while I poop!” “Don’t leave…” Preschoolers perceived needs are never-ending, and unrelenting. Cut yourself some slack–they’ll never be satisfied.
5. TO FEEL VALUED.
NEED: To feel important and unique. To be told that they were created by a loving God with a purpose and a plan.
DON’T NEED: To feel that the world revolves around them. (the world thanks you.)
6. PERMISSION TO BE LITTLE
NEED: Freedom to be silly. To grow up naturally and enjoy the playful, happy days of childhood. Dress up. Make believe. Giggles. ALL. GOOD.
DON’T NEED: To be babied. To be allowed to cling to childish ways in order to get attention or get their way.
7. ENCOURAGEMENT TO GROW UP.
NEED: Increasing responsibilities and gentle nudges to gain independence.
DON’T NEED: Too-high of expectations. To feel pressure to see, do, or understand things that their little brains aren’t ready for.
8. YES. AND NO.
It’s hard to hear no….
NEED: Plenty of both. Most importantly: To be taught to accept a “no” with a content heart. (Or, at least without throwing tantrums in public.)
DON’T NEED: All of one or the other.
NEED: To be offered some choices, every day.
DON’T NEED: Choices about everything.
Side note to Parents: “Choose your battles, but be sure to win the battle you choose.”
(We let Levi choose his own clothes.) (In case you haven’t noticed…)
NEED: Age-appropriate entertainment…Access to basic busy work—like paper and crayons, books, and simple toys.
Most important: To learn to entertain themselves.
DON’T NEED: To be entertained constantly. A full schedule. Too many organized activities. Fancy toys. Also: iPods, iPads, Xboxes or other devices. (I’m not saying they’re wrong, but they are not a “need.”)
NEED: To be taught age-appropriate skills, lessons, and good manners. How to manage emotions. Also teach Bible stories, basic spiritual truths. An introduction to letters, and numbers.
DON’T NEED: Lectures, sermons, long explanations, or anything requiring more than a few seconds of attention. Also don’t need: To learn to read.
NEED: 10-12 hours a day. To be able to soothe self to sleep and stay in own bed. Also helpful: A bedtime routine/ritual.
DON’T NEED: Someone in bed with them. (This is obviously a personal decision and up to the parents, but from our experience–we’ve done it both ways, and the whole family has proven much happier when everyone sleeps in their own bed. 🙂
NEED: People (of all ages) to interact with throughout the day. Siblings are great. Grandparents are a blessing. Playdates are good for some (Not my personal favorite.) Preschool is sometimes a good option.
DON’T NEED: Daily playdates. Constant time with peers. Sleepovers.
MORE THINGS EVERY PRESCHOOLER NEEDS:
14. DISCIPLINE Lots of it now will pay off later.
15. ROUTINE Preschoolers feel secure with routine. Some consistent scheduling is good for them.
16. TO LEARN HOW TO CARE FOR OTHERS They love caring for others! Give them opportunities and watch them blossom!
17. PLENTY OF BOOKS Never too many.
18. FRESH AIR AND EXERCISE The solution to many a fussy preschooler.
19. HUGS and CUDDLES All the live long day.
20. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE communicated and demonstrated.
OK friends—I did my bestest. 🙂
What did I miss!? Please comment with any thoughts or ideas, questions, or funnies from your own adorable preschoolers.
And as always, I really appreciate it when you pass this on to your friends through the social media share buttons below! Mahalo!
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