Don’t Rush, Little One

 
My 4 year-old recently told us that he can’t wait to be a teenager. My husband and I both quickly questioned him about this declaration – his response was that he just couldn’t wait to drive himself everywhere. At 4 years of age, he has already romanticized the notion of growing up. Why wouldn’t he? Our standard response to him asking to do something is, “Maybe when you’re bigger!” I’m guessing one of the most common phrases he hears me say is, “hurry up!” We’re always rushing from home to daycare, from daycare back home, from eating supper to take a quick bath, read a quick book and go to sleep, only to do it again the next day. Why wouldn’t he begin to think that rushing is a good thing? (When did we start acting like it was the way life was supposed to look? Oops! Thanks for the wake-up call, kiddo!) We explained to our son that we want him to enjoy being a kid!
 
My husband and I have decided that we are going to work to help protect and preserve our children’s childhood. Real world responsibilities will hit them eventually, and when they do, we hope that we will have prepared them. They will have successes and failures, but we are being mindful of a few things to help teach them resilience and living in the moment.
 
Have fun! If life is all about responsibilities and obligation, it gets a little daunting. We teach plenty of responsibilities around our house, but we try to take a little bit of every day to have a little fun. It might mean shooting baskets for a few minutes before dinner or building LEGOs afterward,  but we try to get a little fun in every single day.

Protect them from the big, scary world. Information is everywhere. The TV news is very disturbing for adults, let alone children. We are attempting to protect our children from the harsh realities of the many difficult things going on around the world by not speaking of potentially disturbing circumstances. Discussions of politics, family difficulties, and even the weather could potentially be misunderstood by our children, so we try to limit our conversations to private areas. We don’t pretend like bad things never happen, but we find ways to talk about them with our kids in ways that we control the vocabulary and give them the opportunity to let them ask questions. When our children have matured a bit, we will reexamine which information they could handle so that they will begin to understand how to interpret difficult situations.

Encourage their creativity and fearlessness! I can’t help but be amazed by listening in on my children’s playtime conversations. They enjoy being creative with LEGOs and drawers full of art supplies. I enjoy the fact that my 4 year-old sits on every other surface of his Little Tykes chair, except the seat. He is getting a new perspective and already starting to think outside of the box. Because I’m a bit of a safety seeker, my children have begun to adopt some of those tendencies. While on the one hand, I’m thankful they have pretty good safety awareness, I want to them be brave a little bit every day! I’ll remind them to try new things and often whisper “be brave” to them. The scary world needs our bravery, even at age 6 and 4.

Teach them to recognize beauty. Beauty is everywhere. I like to pause and point out when we see something out of the ordinary. We live next to a large field that is covered in dandelions. While it might incite angst in many people, I like to point out to my boys just how pretty the bright yellow is against the green grass. And it makes me smile when they are the ones to point out the pretty flowers, or large, fluffy clouds in the sky. Instilling a sense of awe and beauty, even in the day-to-day is something that will give them resilience, strength, and perspective in the good times and in the bad.

Be Still. I’m preaching mostly to myself here, but I think resiliency and strength is also borne from moments of silence. Our world is so fast paced and overwhelming, moments of clarity come for me when I’m at rest. We sometimes only have moments of calm after we’ve said our bedtime prayers and talked through our children’s day. I like to encourage them to take deep breaths to calm their bodies and be still. 

The world will try to rush our children’s childhoods, but we can encourage them to enjoy every moment along the way! My youngest will be driving soon enough, but he’s got a lot of LEGO’s to build and clouds to spot in the meantime. 

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