A Note from the Preschool Director's Heart
I recently had an opportunity to speak at a MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) group. My speech was well-received and I wanted to share the outline with you.
What does your child need from you?
Acceptance: All children have strengths and weaknesses. Parents need to play to their strengths and advocate for their weaknesses.
Accountability: Let your child know that they will answer to you for their actions or lack thereof (things they commit or omit). It is not to early to allow them to suffer age appropriate consequences.
Adult: Don't be fooled into thinking that you need to be their friend. Popularity with your young child is overrated. Do your job well when they are young and you will enjoy their friendship later in life.
Apologize: Parents are human too and we mess up. Model being responsible for your own actions by asking for and given forgiveness.
Balance: The Scripture says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I probably don't have to tell you to love your child. We do need to find a balance that lets our child know that the world does not revolve around their needs and wants. Entitlement is ugly.
Balance activities: Not every waking hour needs to be planned and scripted. Allow for some down time to nurture the imagination and be involved in open ended activities. I recommend play-doh, cutting pictures our of old magazines, providing a variety of art supplies, writing letters to grandparents, etc. Limit Screen time! 98% of homes have multiple devices. The average child under 8 has 2 hours of screen time daily, which causes sensory overload, street and changes brain development. It also limits social/emotional development and small motor skills.
Balance Sleep: Preschoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep per night.
Be Present: Put down your cell phone and listen to your child. Make eye contact and listen attentively. They need to know that their ideas and feelings are important to you. If you don't listen now, they won't bother talking to you when they get older.
Boundaries: Provide security with boundaries, which should be clear and well defined.
Catch them being good: I had a friend who told me that her child said that the doggy says "bow wow", the kitty says "meow" and mommy says "no, no". Don't be that mommy.
Choices: Give them choices that are age appropriate, for example: "you can wear the red shirt of the blue shirt", or "do you want an apple or a banana for a snack?"
Consequences: They need to be age appropriate and fit the crime.
Consistency: You kids need to know clearly what is expected of them. Think before you answer and let your NO mean NO. Don't cave in and don't negotiate.
Love is not always a warm and fuzzy feeling. Kids need tough love too.