My son, Caleb, is one of the best kids that I know. He is smart, thoughtful, kind, and is always looking out for his mama and brothers. I’m still adjusting to the fact that he’s five now (!!) and will be starting kindergarten in the fall. But, I’m not the only one. Lately, he’s questioning himself more, while trying to make sense of so much new information. I’ve had to be more vigilant to make sure that he’s adjusting as best as he can. This means adopting four strategies to encouraging my bright and curious pre-K child.
Create boundaries that guide, not restrict.
Even the sweetest kids will still test their boundaries. Caleb wants to take on as much as possible, but it’s not always appropriate actions. His intentions are good so I try not to get angry. Instead, I’m expanding the guardrails of his life so he has a more realistic framework to operate within. Example: I bought him kids’ scissors to use on his own. If they don’t work, he knows to ask an adult because my crafting scissors are off-limits.
Celebrate curiosity and trying new things.
Trying more things means that he will experience more challenges and setbacks. His reading skills are taking off and he expects some words to come naturally to him. When they don’t, there are visible expressions of frustration and some tears. In those moments, I applaud him for trying new things but also remind him that it will take practice to master things. As a recovering perfectionist, I am on-guard for those traits in my child and try to avoid sending messages associating perfection with worthiness.
Choose uplifting and encouraging words.
We co-created a short, but intentional saying for him to repeat in the morning and again before bed.
I am Caleb. I am smart. I am kind. I am brave. God loves me and I can do anything.
Sometimes he freestyles and adds in other positive things about himself. I love that the most because I want him to take these words to heart. I’m training him to speak life into himself, even when a trusted adult is not around.
You didn’t think this was only going to be warm and fuzzy strategies, did you? Since Caleb wants to take on more, I look for new responsibilities and chores for him to own. Some are small, like putting up his own clothes in his dresser. Others carry more significance, like choosing what birthday items to buy for our local pantry or being kind when one of his brothers makes him mad. It’s never too early to remind him that he can do hard things!
There’s a lot of transition in his world. He continues to evolve into the role of big brother and he’s also beginning to assert his independence more noticeably. This brings him pretty close to “the line.” I don’t want to stifle that energy, but my job is to guide him properly. I listen to him and watch how he responds. Pivots are needed but consistency is key. I’m definitely learning as I go.
How are you encouraging your pre-K child during this period of change and growth?