Your preschooler is practicing impulse control, but this isn’t the kind of practice Olympic athletes do to stay in shape and shave a few seconds off their time. No, this is the kind of practice that’s mostly fumbling and failing as your child slowly learns how to make good choices. In other words, you are going to need so much patience!
The only thing you’ll need more than patience is a deep well of forgiveness. This stage is a crucial one in your child’s developing sense of self. They are learning whether mistakes are allowed, if they are loved even when they misbehave, and if they will be given second and third chances to choose well. While you might need to dig deep to find the patience and compassion your child needs, it’s important that you do.
It can help to think about the way God loves us. God’s love never wavers. When we offer forgiveness and grace to our children, we are modeling what is perhaps the most important thing they will ever know: They are loved, and they also sometimes make bad choices. Their bad choices do not define them or change God’s love—or your love—for them.
So offer forgiveness freely and out loud—to your child, your spouse, your parents, your friends. Hug your child when they apologize, help them make amends as needed, and show them that they are not defined by their mistakes.
Originally Published 6/8/2017