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“My preschooler drives me crazy!” Does that sound like you? Of course it does. You can’t reason with them, they want to do what they want WHEN they want, and why do they insist on licking inanimate objects?!
My preschooler drives me crazy!
That one word evokes both sighs and giggles from parents (and inward chuckles from grandparents). Having entered the Gigi eera, I’m reminded just how funny (and irrational) preschoolers can be. I’ve lovingly termed our three-year-old grandson the Tiny Tornado because he packs a punch the moment he enters a room, plowing through, working the crowd, and leaving mini-mass destruction in his wake.
His eighteen-month-old sister lays personal claim to the word, “Mine”, not unlike the seagulls from the movie Finding Nemo. As parents seek balance while fielding comments like, “Why”, and “No”, here are some key phrases to help soothe your inner savage beast.
10 things your preschooler needs to hear from you
A mama of youngsters often finds herself spouting the word “no”, without thinking; almost as a go-to safety net. While obviously the word, “no” is necessary, the word, “yes” bears equal importance. This single word holds promise, hope, and joy. In a world of “no’s”, what can you say, “yes” about? Do more of that. Did he bounce through the bathroom doorway grasping a pop-up book as you busily scrubbed toilet toilet grime? Toss the brush and say “yes” for a change. Did she ask to go out and swing or enjoy a popsicle? Drop the laundry basket and oblige.
Preschoolers don’t ask for much; they just ask often. Their requests wear down even the strongest mom on her happiest days. But remember, this is an inquisitive stage that, thankfully, doesn’t require overthinking on your part. Preschoolers blurt requests that don’t require mental energy, just a willingness to be interrupted during your never ending string of duties. That long list of chores will still be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Say yes occasionally – your “yes” holds the power of joy.
Of course, you knew this was coming. Kids must be taught, “No” for their safety and your sanity. We say “no” to lying on gritty parking lots, sampling gum from underneath restaurant tables, and darting towards oncoming traffic.
But no also means, “Don’t act rude”, “Don’t scream at the table”, and “Don’t hit your sister”. Young parents often have a hard time transitioning to “no” because little Willie is just so cute when he spits food and then laughs about it. It’s hard to hide the urge to chuckle when you know they’re being rotten.
Trust me on this one – you don’t do yourself any favors by putting off the word, “No”. Say it like you mean it, don’t crack a smile, and expect obedience. Kids need boundaries, and kids need follow-through. The sooner you instill obedience in your child, the easier the battles to come.
3.) Can I play too?
Parents are busy making ends meet and providing for the family. But showing children we’re interested in their “work” lends equal importance. You’ve likely heard it said a preschooler’s work is play. They’re very serious about their play, and while parents don’t have lots of time to interact, we must make time for our kid’s “work”.
Whether playing catch, lining up race cars, or serving tea to baby dolls, ask your preschooler if you can play sometimes. Yes – once you start, they’ll ask more often. You’ve already learned how to tell them no – and you’ll have to say it sometimes. But don’t be stingy with your time – interact with your preschooler and ask to play at his “work”.
In case you hadn’t heard, giggles lighten the load. Parenting is full of stressful moments, so when something funny happens, laugh! Even the Bible says a merry heart does good like medicine. Another perk to laughter – it builds bonds with our children! When you catch yourself saying, “My preschooler drives me crazy!” often, maybe it’s time to appreciate the value of a chuckle.
Kids are silly and fun and witty and preschoolers use words all wrong and take things literally. Once when I offered to read him a book, the Tiny Tornado said, “Uh, no. I don’t think you can read very well”. I cracked up! Don’t take them literally because they don’t know what they’re saying half the time.
Life is too serious to forgo giggles and laughter is God’s gift to offset tension. By giving a sense of humor priority, we teach our kids to enjoy the little moments. Mark Twain said, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”
5.) Good job!
It’s easy to get caught up in children’s blunders, especially when they’re creating messes. But kids need to know they’re doing well at learning. As we teach responsibility, we should take care not dampen spirits by frequently pointing out flaws. A sideways bedspread, spilled toothpaste, or skewed place setting can be corrected.
But a crushed spirit can lead to a lifetime of hurt. Be sure to praise your child as you teach. Allow mistakes for efforts made, and notice little improvements. Verbally expressing pride in our children’s efforts gives them incentive to seek opportunities to keep trying.
6.) Nap time!
Every mom looks forward to nap time, right? But what amazes me is the lack of priority moms sometime place on this. Your preschooler needs rest from stimulation and overactivity and so do you. Keeping her on a schedule goes a long way toward saving your sanity in the evening hours.
When my kids were young, nap time dictated my schedule. I knew if naps were skipped, my temper would be short and evening drama would be high.
Even when kids begin to need less sleep, have them spend 30 minutes to an hour in their rooms looking at books or playing quietly in their beds. Mama needs that time as much as the kiddos so do yourself a favor and keep nap times in the schedule! If you’re not planning around nap time, you most definitely will catch yourself saying, “My preschooler drives me crazy!”
7.) Let’s Clean up!
Preschoolers are messy. They leave toys, clothes, and cheerios strewn from one end of the house to the other. We moms get so tired of picking up after them! But even the littlest toddler can learn to help tidy up. The sooner we teach responsibility for cleanup, the sooner they own it.
Don’t pick up after your preschooler. Find ways to incentivize clean up and enforce daily. You are not a slave, and the sooner your preschooler realizes this, the better. Most kids don’t instinctively know how to pick up or where to store items, so take time to show them. Trust me – you’ll be glad you did.
Oftentimes your preschooler gets so spun up that nothing you say improves the situation. If she’s throwing a tantrum, oftentimes the best action is to remove her from the situation and into a quiet spot. Kids this age don’t understand ration, so we make it worse by pressing.
And then we say things we regret. Those are the times to choose silence. Direct your child to the time-out chair, their bed, or a boundary location, but choose to shut your mouth and wait until calm. Ask the Lord for help in this needed area of the tongue and know you’re not alone in your struggle. Moms especially need to depend on God’s strength with temper!
“My preschooler drives me crazy!”
9.) Let’s eat!
If you have a preschooler who isn’t a picky eater, I’d like to shake your hand. My oldest went on a food strike when she turned one and didn’t start eating again until age four. During that time, I begged, whined, and yelled in frustration over her eating habits.
In hindsight, I realize she drank her way through the preschool years. Monitor drinks, offer variety, and try not to get all wigged out when they only eat pasta for every meal. Serve new foods occasionally along with a variety of fruits and vegetables, and if all they eat is ketchup, take it. My pediatrician always said, “At the end of the month, they’ll get all the nutrients they need, even if it seems they only eat one type of food. And you can count ketchup as a vegetable.”
Just so you know, my oldest is now twenty-eight and she eats almost anything. (And now, her toddlers don’t eat.) There’s hope!
10.) I love you!
Of course, right? It seems so simple and most families verbalize this phrase. But if you and come from a family where “I love you” wasn’t said as much as it was shown, make an effort. My husband told our kids “I love you” every day all day and I usually said it once a day. We’re all reared differently.
Just make sure you verbalize this phrase. Kids need to know you love them, and they need to hear it. Don’t just assume they know. Tell them “I love you” at least once a day.
A loving touch is also important. Take time for hugs, kisses, and snuggles. If you’re not a snuggler (such as myself), work to make time.
The next time you think, “My preschooler drives me crazy”, take a step back to reevaluate. Have you granted permission, or are you always saying no? No is good for discipline, but we need to say yes as often as possible. Taking the time to play and laugh prevents outbursts (aka cries for attention). Be sure she’s getting plenty of rest with scheduled nap times. Kids often act out when they’re tired and they don’t realize it. Same for eating – a full tummy is the best medicine for cranky behavior – even in adults! Teach your child responsibility by guiding him to clean his messes. And remember – sometimes NOT speaking is the best route (before your mouth goes south)!
Remember, your child exemplifies God’s perfect expression of creativity – from the intricate, outward appearance, to the complex, inner personality. Loving on your preschooler is the ultimate thanksgiving toward the Ultimate Creator!
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