Seven Lessons I Am Currently Teaching My Four Year Old Daughter that She Will Need for the Rest of Her Life
1. Always Keep a Straight Line When Walking Across the Street
This one is more common sense based than the rest of them. Yet, just as important. We live and primarily play in the midtown/downtown areas of Kansas City, MO. I also choose to live without owning a vehicle. As a result of constantly being in such highly trafficked neighborhoods, I’ve developed a heightened sense of fear about getting hit by a car. It doubled when my daughter came along.
From the time Lily turned two and we moved to our current neighborhood I have drilled her on “rules of the road” and “car safety”. She knows to look to the left and right before crossing the street. She’s never tried to take off running away from me and possibly into oncoming traffic. If she’s playing in the middle of our street and sees a car coming she knows to get back on the sidewalk. (Don’t judge me on letting my kid play in the middle of the street. She’s being supervised. It’s a one way. Everything is OK.) She’s four now and pretty much gets it. Except for one thing. I recently started allowing her to cross the street without holding my hand. And sometimes she veers slightly to the left or right. When she does, I always yell out the same thing. “Keep a straight line!”
2. Only God is Truly Glorious
The definition of glory is:
- worshipful praise, honor, or distinction, and thanksgiving
- a distinguished quality or asset
- great beauty, splendor, magnificence
- a height of prosperity or achievement
The definition of glorious is possessing or being deserving of glory. I’m unsure of exactly where this lesson came from. It may have been Lily’s Sunday School classes or a song she heard that had glorious in the lyrics. But I do remember her asking me if she was glorious some time ago. I replied by saying that “Only God is truly glorious”. She laughed and said that she WAS glorious too. Eventually it became a game where she comes up with silly things to call glorious. Candy is glorious. Minions are glorious. However when we read a bible story or scripture with the word glory I make sure to focus on it as a way to remind her that God is glorious.
3. Treat Others with Respect and Kindness & Require Others to Treat You with Respect and Kindness
Lily is full of love and happiness for the most part. I am so thankful for her sweet, cheery disposition. She does have a sassy side though. And she’s not afraid to show it. On several occasions I have been a witness her telling a friend what’s what when they try to take a toy she’s playing with. Which I love. I think it serves any person well in life to have the courage to stand up for themselves. However, after Lily got in trouble at school for pushing a friend down because they made her mad, I started teaching her other ways to express her anger. Ways that don’t include someone getting knocked to the ground.
Lily is a great communicator for her age. Particularly when it comes to how she’s feeling and why. Which goes hand in hand with her being able to express when she feels she or someone else is unfairly treated. Lily has also recently experienced “friends” at school being not so nice to her. So now if a situation arises we talk about ways she can show kindness to others. My daughter comes up with the sweetest answers! “Read a book to a friend” “Dance with them” “Give them a hug” “Let them ride my bike” “Share my fruit” We also discuss how to define the meaning of friendship and how a friend should and shouldn’t treat you.
4. Those Who Love You, Care for You, and Want the Best for You Will Do So No Matter What
My daughter is getting this lesson less with words and more in actions. And it’s mainly put into practice when she least deserves it. After a day of not following directions and multiple tantrums, occasionally we will still end up going out for ice cream. There have also been plenty of times when Lily’s naughty behavior warranted discipline, yet I would let the night pass with no follow-up on her misconduct. Why? Because her misbehavior makes me think of how often I don’t follow directions yet God continues sh merciful. How can I be a parent who lays the smack-down at every transgression when I’m being led by the example of God who is so graciously loving? So, even when Lily is at her worst I do my best to show her she is loved. The same as God reminds me all the time.
5. Please Use Your Good Manners, They Count for A Lot
I believe exhibiting good manners are how you show respect and common courtesy to others. I wish I would see more of them everyday. I’m also learning that children will do what you do and say what you say. So I work to keep please, thank you, you’re welcome, and may I in my vocabulary. I have a rule, as well. If a please or may I isn’t said, Lily does not get whatever it is she wants. Period. But good manners go deeper than that. I’m teaching Lily how to wait patiently, not interrupt someone who’s talking, share her things, be quiet and still when the occasion calls for it.
When people see how my daughter behaves in public they often remark on how surprised they are. But I don’t think it should be a shock when children are well behaved. Children are capable of amazingly great things. Learning to say please, thank you, and sit quietly are the least of them. It just takes diligence on the part of parents and teachers. In turn, the rewards for Lily’s good manners are many. Everyday, we go somewhere fun, do something she likes, or she gets a treat.
6. You are Beautiful and You Look Pretty
We live in a society where everyone is judged heavily based on outward appearances. Unfortunately most people never have the content of their inner character critiqued. I must admit I do think being attractive helps. I’m a visual person and I like a handsome face. But I also think that society allows so many to get by with just being pretty. A person should be required to be more than simply good-looking. Interesting. Cultured. Philosophical. Intelligent. Artistic.
Of course this mentality isn’t formed overnight. It starts when a person is young and the majority of compliments they hear are about their physical appearance. “You are so pretty” “I love your hair” “Look how cute your clothes are” Now, I am not at all saying children will become narcissistic jerks if they hear they are pretty or handsome. In fact, as a black woman with natural hair, I constantly advocate for little black girls and boys to grow up hearing they are beautiful. I also strive to raise my daughter to know that her worth goes farther beyond her pretty hair and face. Everyday, I comment on Lily’s wit, sincerity, compassion, intelligence, creativity, etc. These are the things that make up who she is as a person. And that is beautiful.
7. Most of the Time You May Get By with Simply Walking but Occasionally You Will Have to Run
It frequently occurs that when we head to the bus stop when we see the bus coming up the street. We break out in a full sprint so we won’t miss it. My daughter hates this. Running to catch a bus is Lily’s least favorite thing on Earth. Once on the bus Lily, usually upset and in tears, exclaims how mad or sad she is. I always say the same thing. “Sometimes you have to run”. This lesson is simple enough at first but is applicable to many aspects of life. Whether it’s something you love and are passionate about or it’s something you want to get away from, sometimes you have to run.