When my youngest child was 4, he loved to sing songs while riding in the car. I remember him belting out the lyrics to one particular song “We Fall Down” by Kutless. The words read “We fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus” … but in the rear view mirror I could see him giving it all he had as he innocently sang these words, “We fall down, we lay our crayons at the feet of Jesus.” I smiled and was about to correct him but then thought to myself, “I think Jesus would love it if a 4-year-old would give Him his crayons.” After all, that’s what was important to him at the time. And Jesus loves it when we place these important items at His feet, because it shows we love Him.
I have the joy of working with children age 2 through Kindergarten every weekend and I get to hear the most creative, humorous things from them. Their hearts are so big and they are very ‘matter-of-fact’ about things. You will never meet someone more brutally honest than a 4-year-old. They see things through vivid imaginations and always want to know “Why?” Pretend play and games are their means of communication and they want their parents’ attention as much as they can get it. So if you are a parent of a preschooler, here’s my advice: give it to them. This phase of their life is so short and they crave time with you, whether it’s playing dress-up while having tea and cookies or building a giant robot out of Legos or cardboard boxes. Go ahead and turn off that TV and instead play catch outside, teach them how to play ‘go fish’, or simply go for a bike ride. These are the moments your preschooler will ‘talk your ear off’, but cherish it. Soon they will be in school, talking to teachers and making new friends. Your role as a parent during these early years is key to how they develop relationships in the future.
My 4-year-old who sang that song (that I still remember so well) is now almost 11, and his conversations have changed quite a bit. He still asks “Why?” questions, but it doesn’t stop after that one word. The games he plays are all competitive and he hates to lose. He is facing middle school in one more year and the world is going to throw all kinds of falsehoods at him. I know that his faith will be tested, but I also know that he has been given a strong foundation in God’s love. We (his parents) have been able to partner with a church that loves kids, and works hard to instill God’s truth in them every week. He is learning that the world does not revolve around him, which is contrary to society’s message that “it’s all about me.” He currently serves younger kids on the weekend and is helping them see a God who:
- Made them,
- Loves them, and
- Wants to be their friend forever.
When children understand and believe these three basic truths, they have the foundation they need to grow and love a God who desires their love in return.
And when your child is older – like mine, instead of laying crayons at His feet, he will be ready to lay down whatever crown is important to him at that time — whether its sports, video games, or selfish pride. But for now, enjoy your preschooler – it’s a phase that goes by very quickly.