DJ, my son, is amazing. Watching him learn and grow is priceless. He is adventurous, loving, funny, loyal, and protective. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything, he is straight to the point. He is excited about school, loves to learn new letters, numbers, and concepts. I don’t think there’s a better example of “discovery face” than this kid’s expressions when he connects the dots on something. His face actually lights up!
Age 4 also comes with increased vocabulary and overall awareness. Lol, the things they absorb can be funny and also pretty scary. As a family, we are constantly reminding our kids what is and isn’t appropriate to say and do. I have learned not be shocked (outwardly) when they say something unexpected; instead I casually ask, “Who said that? Or why do you think that?” I want him to feel open to telling me the good and things, so I try not to demand where he has heard something or seen something. In a way, I am amazed that we are already having these conversations. By age 6, 7, or 8 maybe, but not 4!
4 is also a huge transition age. Knowing that Kindergarten is less than a year away, now is the time to solidify his innate desire to learn and help him to problem-solve when he is frustrated (academically or socially). When I think about him having to make decisions with less guidance in a couple of years, I definitely worry a little.
DJ is hungry for knowledge, and is simultaneously impatient when things do not click right away. As I have said before, my goal is to teach him independence and how to succeed when mom and dad aren’t around. Easier said than done! Sometimes, if he asks me for help and I advise him to figure out another way (no matter if it’s academics or putting a toy back together), his initial response is usually not a happy one. I do my best to encourage him in the moment of frustration, and typically he will figure it out and flash a huge smile. “Mommy, I did it!” Then I say, “Of course you did. You’re smart. But you have to be patient.” Other times, I help him out and show him how he can do it by himself next time. These moments may not seem like a huge deal, but it’s when he is in the middle of frustration and tears that I need to show him how to move to the next step. Sometimes I tell him “Don’t get upset! It’s okay, we’ll figure it out.” But I also know how upset it makes me when someone tells me to stop being upset WHILE I AM CLEARLY UPSET, lol.
So, I am doing my best to let him work through his uncertainty and wait until he’s ready to move on. Modeling is everything! If I get upset with him for getting upset, I am probably just reinforcing his negative reaction. As humans, we need our feelings and emotions validated by those we care about. Why else do we share our thoughts, feelings, and opinions? Whether it be memes on social media or intimate conversations, we feel secure when people identify with how we feel or simply acknowledge what we are feeling. When I give him my undivided attention, he will show me and “reteach” me everything he has learned at school that day or week. He is definitely a leader, and I want to foster that as much as possible.
Confidence is not just about knowing how to do everything; instead, it’s the knowledge that even if you mess up, you can try again and/or figure out a way to do things differently. Preschooler’s brains are still developing and learning how to deal with adversity, so giving him the tools to navigate issues will help to foster his inborn conviction and increase confidence. I want him to feel as confident being himself as he does when he puts on his Black Panther mask or Batman cape and immediately takes on their character voice and movements.
However, his self-affirmation also increases as looks up at me when I’m unaware. Am I being patient while frustrated? Am I giving myself grace in tough moments, or beating myself up? Lately, I am beating myself up. I am not being patient. Ah, something else for me to feel guilty about right? NO. As of late, my mantra is grace over guilt for my own sake, and also for his.
He may actually believe he’s Black Panther, LOL. But he is awesome to me because he pushes me to be greater, everyday. When I fall short of that, he is still there the next day, looking up and expecting the best.
What are some difficult lessons you’e teaching your children right now? Let me know below!