There are a few things that separate good dads from mediocre dads of preschoolers. “Being there.” is key. Being there to listen. Preschoolers are communicators and they want to talk. Being fully into their conversations increase their love for you. Listen to them, look into their eyes. Compliment them on their insight. Answer their questions. Ask them questions, about what they think, how they would solve a problem, what do they like, etc. Often, these conversations will become teachable moments, and the teachable moments will become a lasting memory.
The Amazing Reward of Obedience
My preschoolers quickly knew that obedience receives a reward and disobedience earns a consequence. My choice in disciplining my children has always been rewarding good behavior. I preferred obedience and they preferred reward. I learned a lot about delivering consequence:
- Do it only when they are disobedient
- Never as a result of a child’s mistake or accident
- Never when I am angry, tired, or stressed out
- Do it only after the consequence is explained
- After delivering the consequence, get on with life.
I usually spanked my preschoolers for blatant disobedience, but I preferred giving them a time out, early bedtime, or the loss of a toy for a week. I rarely had to spank my preschoolers because they liked the rewards of obedience.
How to Build Confidence In Preschoolers
The best way to build confidence is to be something. For preschoolers it begins with simple things like kicking or catching a ball, making a wise choice, riding a tricycle, playing a game well, etc. When they tasted victory, their confidence grew, and their desire for success was quickened. I tried to::
- Encourage them to try different things
- Affirm their ability to succeed
- Support them and praise all of their efforts
- Celebrate their successes
Help your preschool child discover things that they can become good at doing. Both my children loved to sing. They started when they were preschoolers and they became very good singersm performing for large audiences. They also played sports and became good students in school. Finding something they were proficient at, even as preschoolers, gave them confidence and helped build their self esteem.
Do A Project Together
Building something or completing a project with my preschoolers was a type of work-play. They became my little helpers and they played a significant part in each project. I loved to hear them tell their mother and others they completed a project with Dad. These projects:
- Helped their self-confidence
- Gave them an appreciation for a process
- Taught them how to recognize and use simple tools
- Taught them how things are put together
- Gave us precious quality and quantity time together
Sing, Dance, and Laugh
Young children love to sing and dance. My preschool children enjoyed learning my college fight song, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and other all-time favorite kid’s songs. A child’s play-list on a cellphone would be great to enjoy together. It is natural to move, or dance with the music. Laughter is a natural result of singing and dancing and it creates a positive and fun atmosphere. These times with my preschoolers were good for me too. I loved being with them and this gave me the opportunity.
Read to Your Preschooler
Reading to your preschooler is a great activity for a dad to do. At bedtime, I would often read to my children. Some books or portions of books were requested by my preschoolers over and over again. Reading at bedtime is a subtle way of saying I am here and there is nothing to fear. Both of my preschoolers learned to love reading good books. The stories were usually illustrated with pictures that we could look at and talk about. One of the real joys I received was seeing my kids pick up the book and tell the story in their own words not knowing how to read. When they began learning to read, they read me a story. One of my little tricks was finding a simple word like “to” and asking my preschooler to say that word every time we came to it in the story. The next time I read them the story, I added to the word “to” another simple word like “the.” It became the beginning of their reading, and they loved participating.
Teach Them to Wink and Whistle
For many hours of interaction and fun, teach your preschooler to wink and whistle. They find it fascinating, want to learn how to do it and it teaches them muscle control. They cannot wink at first but they try and both eyes close at the same time. They know that is not right but that is all they can do. They like it when their dad laughs with them as they try. Same with whistling. At first, just air comes out or a noise that they try to fabricate, sometimes a scream. When they suddenly get it, they love showing off their new talent. My children tried winking each eye intermittently like the lights at a railway crossing. Eventually, they were able to wink and whistle, sing and dance, and read and tell stories. They loved being with their daddy because he taught them and made things fun.
Teach Your Preschool Child How To Play Physical Games
Playing physical games with your preschooler can be loads of fun and can teach them some fun ways to work on their body control and coordination. Like the game rock, paper, scissors. Never hurt the child, just have fun. Just leaning the rules to a game is an accomplishment. We would play balloon volleyball in the living room or we would ball up the newspaper and throw them at each other like snowballs. I would stand in front of my child with palms down and they would rest their hands on top of mine. The key was for them to move their hand before I could touch the top of it. We played this game where we looked at each other in the eyes and if I moved my head up they would move their head down. If I moved my head in one direction, they moved their head in the opposite direction. It is harder than it sounds. These simple games that I often made up, taught them creativity because they came up with ideas too. Hide and seek, tag, and other games were always fun. I let them win often, after all, they are preschoolers.
Teach Colors To Your Preschooler
Preschoolers can learn their colors. I used additive learning using a color adjective to describe an object. When my preschoolers were beginning to learn colors I would say look at the green grass, or red fire engine, or pink pillow. Then I would ask my children what color the grass was? If they got it wrong I would repeat what I had said before, Look at the green grass. It worked. Before long they were calling the grass green and would color it green in their coloring book. When they had a pretty good handle on the colors, I would purposely say it the wrong way like, Look at the green fire engine. They loved correcting their dad and when I asked what color it was, they told me. I did a similar thing with stories I would tell them. Occasionally, I would say things like, and in twenty-four days, God created the earth. They loved correcting me. No, it was six days and on the seventh day, God rested. Getting it wrong became a great reviewing tactic that I used as a Dad and a Children’s Pastor in my church. Try it, it works.
Preschoolers Can Be Taught To Count
My preschoolers began counting when they were very young. Counting toes, fingers, goldfish, or lumps of clay can make this a fun exercise. Playing games that require counting was also a fun way to learn to count, The spots on the dice lend themselves to counting. Numerous songs taught counting. For example, at church, the kids learned the ten commandments with a song. Questions give a great opportunity to teach numbers and counting. How many people live in our house? How many dolls or cars do you have in your toy box? Or how many coins do I have in my pocket? How many windows are in our house? How many eggs are in a dozen? Dad’s can ask for their preschooler to bring 5 pencils, 3 paper clips, or four sheets of paper and then count them with their child. Helping children count, helps prepare them for preschool.
Take Your Preschooler To A Playground
I loved the playground when I was a preschooler and my kids love it too. There is a wide variety of fun things to do. There are usually many other children running around and playing on all the cool stuff so the hype is huge. Playgrounds are usually outside and it is a great place for bottled up energy to be poured out. I used the playground as a reward for good behavior and obedience. The only thing wrong with the playground experience is that your time there is way too short. Most children would rather play on the playground than eat. Growing up, our huge family reunion was held at Liberty Park. I loved the playground there and it was fun as a preschooler to play with all of my cousins there. I remember that our mealtime was always a feast of covered dishes, my cousins and I could eat anytime. We wanted to play. Children only get one childhood, take them to a playground.
Teach your Child Basic Shapes
Preschool children need to learn various basic shapes. My preschoolers knew pizza was usually a circle. They learned to recognize squares, stars, ovals, triangles, diamonds, and rectangles. They could draw these basic shapes and could tell me what they were. I would draw them and see if the could recognize each shape. They would often find a shape when we were shopping and tell me what it was. It was fun!
Teach Them to Share With, Care For, and Beware of Others
Teaching my preschooler to beware of people who could potentially hurt them was no easy task. It began with strangers and they were never to go anywhere with a stranger and beware of people asking them to do anything I would not want them to do. At the same time, I wanted them to share their toys with other boys and girls and care for others by practicing the golden rule of treating others the way they would like to be treated. My job was to protect my children while teaching them to be loving and caring toward others. We would not allow our preschoolers to be in a dangerous situation if we could help it. They were generally with us and if they played in the yard we were there to watch them and keep them safe. This is a big deal because you only have to let your guard down one time for something bad to happen.
Most Preschool Children Learn Personal Hygiene From Their Parents
My children have heard me say, do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason since they could understand words. I am a Christian so I taught my children my faith because I believed it to be vital. Personal Hygiene is like that too. It is important that we teach our children, in this COVID 19 environment, that we should social distance from others, that we should wear a mask when we are in public areas. That we should not touch things that are not ours, we should not put things in our mouth, and we should disinfect and wash our hands often. The normal personal hygiene items like bathing, brushing our teeth, and combing our hair is also important. Children need to be taught as preschoolers to take care of personal hygiene.
Personal Note to Dads
Dads, your children need you. They need your time and they need your attention. You need to tell them every day that you love them and they are very important and special to you. If you have to go out of town you need to call them and talk to them at least every day. That’s what you do when you love someone and are responsible for them. You do not have to be rough and tough around them but you do need to be loving. One of the best things you can do for your children is to love their mother. Your child will look to you for protection and guidance. You will have their trust unless you do something to break their trust. Dad, you are much bigger than your child, treat them that way. Your bond will grow if you do your part. Love your children and increase their happiness and your happiness. Be a model worth following. Enjoy it Dad!
The People Pastor