I have worked with kids for years (and particularly preschoolers), but things got real when my own daughter turned three. Lyla, my daughter, has taught me a lot in the last three and a half years. Some lessons have been easier than others. Like that I really can’t draw Elsa very well or that coffee can be reheated an infinite amount of times. Some lessons have been harder to swallow. Like that I can live on very limited sleep or that meltdowns in public places are survivable, regardless of how embarrassing they may be.
The thing that Lyla is teaching me currently is that being three is hard. I mean, really hard. She’s learning so many “school” things, reeaaallly feeling all the emotions, and then is expected to be kind and share…?! If you think about it, that’s really a lot to ask a little person to do. So, let’s step into a three year old’s shoes for a few minutes. I think there is a lot that we can learn from these little people.
1. Back to the basics.
Lyla is learning letter and number recognition, how to make her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that Mimi is her grandma and Mommy’s mom (MIND BLOWN). Lyla is learning that summer means swimming, sunscreen, hot weather, ice cream, and tank tops (her favorite article of clothing), whereas fall means football, changing clothes halfway through every Saturday (because that’s what happens when Daddy is an Alabama fan and Mommy is an OU fan), evening walks, and sweatshirts. Her world is simple. Sometimes it is good to step back and return to the basics. Focus on the fundamentals of our faith, grow in a specific area, or learn a new thing. We should always be learning and it’s ok if it’s not complicated.
2. Emotions are REAL.
My sweet girl is having ALL THE FEELS right now. The littlest thing (like ice cream with sprinkles) can turn an ordinary day into the greatest day ever. On the other hand, having to take a bath when you don’t want to can turn an ordinary moment into just the WORST.
Emotions typically indicate that something is going on. Let’s look at what we might consider negative emotions, not because they are bad, but because they are the emotions that seem to make us most uncomfortable. I heard it said recently that the middle of a tantrum is not the time to teach a life lesson. The middle of an emotional explosion is the time to recognize that something isn’t right (whether that’s not getting the toy you want at the store, someone just cut you off while driving, or you are heartbroken and confused). Recognize the emotion, validate the emotion, take a few breaths, then dig a little deeper/teach the life lesson. We do not get a toy every time we go to the store. We cannot control someone else’s driving. Our feelings are hurt when we are spoken to in a specific way. Emotions are a really good thing, but we have to learn what they are telling us and how to respond appropriately.
3. It’s the little things.
Sometimes we just need to step back and be grateful for the sprinkles on our ice cream, the ice in our water, the $10 dress from Old Navy, finishing a puzzle, or the dance party in the living room. These are all things that my girl finds great happiness in. We often overlook the little things because we take them for granted or they don’t seem that special to us. Lyla has reminded me that the little things are beautiful and fun to behold. Don’t miss them.
4. Sometimes being kind is hard.
We don’t always want to share, listen, or be respectful. We don’t always want to clean our rooms, put away our stuff, or do the dishes. And this doesn’t ever really change, does it?? What does change is that we learn how to serve out of love when we don’t really want to, how to respect when we don’t always agree, and how to love with the love of Christ. I look forward to the day that Lyla learns these things. Sometimes they are difficult, but they are always worth it.
I am only slightly obsessed with my three year old. I am so grateful that I get a front row seat as she grows and learns. I am constantly teaching her, but she is also constantly teaching me. Lyla is showing me what it looks like to find joy in little things, to slow down and refocus on what matters, and to recognize what my emotions are really telling me. She’s also teaching me that wearing sunglasses upside down and the occasional tutu are okay too.
What is something you can learn from a preschooler today?
Meet the Author!
Casey Yates is a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and speech-language pathologist. Casey loves all things Christmas, British historical fiction, walks, pie and coffee. Lots of coffee.