There was a time when the preschool years were affectionately known as the "Wonder Years". And while you might read that and think "Of course they were - I'm always wondering what the right thing to do is with my preschooler," the term Wonder Years was actually coined as a nod to the inherent wonder and curiosity of 3, 4, 5, and 6-year-olds.
The preschool years are typically defined as ages 3.5-5.5. It's during this phase that children start developing a sense of self, and though they're still very dependent on parents and caregivers for the meeting of physical and emotional needs, they're also extremely interested in learning about their own independence. They learn through experience, and exploring their world, testing limits and boundaries, and discovering new skills are full of wonder and excitement.
As you embark on this beautiful journey of raising preschoolers, here are a few things your preschooler needs to thrive:
Unconditional Love and Protection
- Parenting as a Peacemaker means we start by understanding that receiving and accepting God's unconditional love for you so that you can extend that kind of resplendent love to your preschooler. Let them know they are loved and cherished, and nothing they do will change that.
- Encourage open communication and assure them that they can always talk to you about anything.
Respect for Individuality
- Recognize that each child is unique and created in God's image. Embrace and celebrate their individuality.
- Encourage their interests and passions, even if they differ from your own. One very practical way to do this is to show genuine interest in what they delight in, get curious about it, and join them in that interest.
Peacemaker Discipline (Discipline as Discipleship)
- Shift from punishment-based discipline to a peacemaking approach rooted in Jesus-centered discipleship.
- Discipline with love, empowering your preschooler for the future by teaching and building skills, reinforcing family values, and scaffolding their learning.
Structured Routine with Flexibility
- Establish a daily routine that provides stability and security for your preschooler.
- Allow room for flexibility to accommodate their changing needs and interests, as well as to meet the needs of each family member.
Connection + Quality Time
- Prioritize spending quality time with your child. Engage in activities that promote bonding and connection.
- Try to engage in 10 minutes of child-led play or activity every day.
- Foster independence by giving your child age-appropriate responsibilities and choices.
- Teach them to make decisions by giving choices within wide boundaries.
- Help your preschooler start learning to identify and express their emotions in healthy ways.
- Remember that co-regulation is the foundation for self-regulation. Your child's nervous system will learn self-regulation by experiencing it with you.
Free time for Curiosity and Learning
- Support their natural curiosity through exploration and play.
- Build unscheduled and unstructured free time into your day so they have time to pursue their own curiosity.
You have a unique opportunity to raise thriving preschoolers who not only grow in wisdom and grace but also understand the depth of God's love for them as His image bearers. Parenting through the "wonder years" can feel overwhelming at times. Don't forget to sit back and watch your child flourish as they journey through the precious years of preschool, being exactly who God made them to be.
Want to learn more about Peacemaker Parenting Preschoolers? Our upcoming LIVE workshop will fill your parenting toolbox with trust-based, peacemaking parenting tools, especially for the preschool years.