8 Jul 2014

On Motherhood :: Kids Character vs. Pre-School Success

This post comes from a battle that has been going on deep in my soul. It began as i attended our 3 year old's preschool official year end meeting, upon receiving his "report card". Now to be fair, the teacher told me it is hard to evaluate him because he is bilingual...  she emphasized that the evaluation was based only on what he can do & say in Polish. But still... it's hard to see an evaluation that is "low"for our little guy who i love to the moon and back.

My immediate educator reaction was that he needs to be in preschool more. That he needs to learn Polish better so he can succeed here, in this foreign land in which we live. The message whispers in the back of my mind... "if you were a good mom, you'd send him more".

But wait. This is the same kid that the day before bit another little boy over a toy dispute. Yes, our kid bit someone else's kid and i was almost too embarrassed to even go to the parent meeting over it. When he came home that day we told him that his behaviour was disappointing to us and made us sad. We forgave him and told him we love him but that we didn't want him to do that again. ever.

Well the next day i saw the ugliness emerge... a violent reaction to a timeout which displayed itself in him attempting to head butt me first with his hat, then with his forehead. Oh dear. This is a problem. After thinking, reading and praying. I decided that we had some work ahead, that we were going to work on together... 3 character areas that are essential for life.

1. Obey

2. Focus

3. Self Control

I started repeating them with him every morning, reminding him of what we were going to work on. Throughout the day when something would come up, I would remind him that he needed to have "self control". I would also explain what that meant. A three-year-old needs some concrete boxes for these abstract terms. For example self control means that if you feel angry that your brother took a toy from you, you don't hit him, you come and tell mommy... or you go find another toy.

And you know what? It's working. Not even a week later he can list the 3 things we're working on and i've seen MAJOR improvement in his anger outbursts. 

The focus thing is huge. Our little guys naturally won't look at me much when i'm talking to them.  I realized this was problematic while watching that show 19 kids and counting!  Mama Duggar is talking about character and says, "If i can't get their eyes, how will i get their hearts?" Wow. That really hit me.

Today our 3 year old shared his cookie with me. It made my heart smile... but what brought me even greater joy was that his younger brother saw, and did the same thing! A heart that shares is a 360 from one that bites. Thank you Jesus.

So back to the debate going on deep in my soul. Does he need to go to preschool more? Is it more important that he learn his ABC's or that he learn to be honest, obedient, kind and self controlled? Honestly, I think the average mom has been duped by the lie that someone else can offer their child more than they can. Let's be honest - he will learn his ABC's... in English and in Polish too. He will learn to do math and science.... but in the long run, in life, character matters more than success in preschool, in university, in business. And the eternal direction of our children's souls must be preeminent in the forming and shaping of our little ones.

Start children off on the way they should go,

    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

I've had to embrace the reality that while preschool may teach our kids Polish (and multiple other social and academic skills), it isn't going to teach them character. It's not their job. It's mine. Mom's your kids need you. They need the security of a home where they feel loved, and known, and cherished.  They need YOU to start them off on the way they should go.

May God's grace and strength guide you. It's not an easy journey but God sees you and will give you everything you need if you simply trust Him.



I've found this great resource for character that I look forward to using with our kids. I think our oldest (3 1/2) is finally at the stage where a lot of these activities/lessons would work great!

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