You are to love your children, as you love God—with our entire
mind, soul and strength. We must learn to love your children by first
learning to love God. Learn to talk TO your children rather than AT them.
Talk to them at their level so they will be able to understand your instructions.
This age group enters this period with about 100 words and leaves it
with up to 14,000 words.
The average child grows 2-1/2 inches in height and gains between 4
to 7 pounds a year during early childhood
(Pg. 161, Childhood Development, by Santrock). Researchers have found that
the three-year-old has the highest activity rate of any age group in the entire
human life span. Therefore, they tend to fidget a great deal. This is normal
behavior of the age group. Every child is hyperactive in this age group. Therefore,
do not punish this behavior. However, you can do a home test to determine whether
the activity may be beyond normal behavior. If a child 2-3 years can not sit
and watch a favorite TV program for 20-30 minutes or a 4-4 year old can not
watch a program for 40-60 minutes, you may need to have the child tested. You
should not feed 2-4 year olds “fast or junk” food; it is bad for
their bodies and makes the children more hyperactive. One way you can learn
what is normal behavior is to observe other children of the same age. Work
with the age group in church and you will have the opportunity to observe it.
This is the time for the surfacing of the child’s ego, “the Me”.
However, it is a fragile ego and parents must be careful how they handle it.
Bend but don’t break it (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). It can be cute
and fun in its early development. At 2 years, they are very strong-willed and
focused on one thing, “my way”. The child is into everything and
authority is rarely unchallenged. With the development of the “I” personality,
comes self-assertiveness the “No!” with voice inflection. At the
age of three, the sort of curiosity learning emerges with the “whys?” Often,
behind the “whys” are fears; pay attention to the child’s
questions. Don’t over answer their questions.
If there are other children, there will be rivalry. Siblings of the same sex
fight more and with more hostility. It is normal for siblings to argue, but
should not be allowed to become physical. “Toy” disagreement can
teach privacy of property, cooperation of playtime, and how to resolve problems.
There is the establishing of independence with other peers or siblings where
you may hear “Mother, make him stop!”
Give simple chores to ages 3 to 4, but never give more than the child
is able to do at his age. You can orient the child to family life by
having him feed the pet. At first it will be fun, but later it will become
routine and he will not want to do it.
Never compare ability of one child to another. They are all created
unique. This period begins with what is called the terrible two’s
primarily because of the contest of wills. Some child psychologists have
dubbed this period as the first phase of “Adolescence”. But
it is just a phase and age and it too will soon pass. What is important
is to always be the loving parent.
Retention for Learning
By age five, the child’s brain has reached about 90% of its adult
size and weight compared to about 1/3 of the child’s body weight.
This is an enormous period for learning. The average child learns between
6-10 words a day. They will also pick up nasty words but do not reinforce
this by laughing or being too critical. The equivalent to this enormous
period of learning in regeneration and spiritual growth from infancy
to spiritual adulthood (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 4:13-14).
The child of this age group has a great imagination and may have an
imaginary friend. He or she may sometimes blame things he did on imaginary
friends or pets. This is also a period where word association becomes
images and symbols in conversations and drawings. This is a period of
short memory spans for learning new information. The right lobe of mentality
is developing the frame of reference, memory center, and vocabulary.
Therefore, repetition is necessary, but avoid nagging. “Burn-out” for
parents is a very big problem at this age. The French have a proverb; “a
baby is an angel whose wings decrease as his legs increase”.
This is a good time to introduce children to educational games and the
computer. This age child can begin to solve simple problems by intuitive
reasoning. They know what they know, but don’t know why they know
it. This is a good time for choices for the child, such as: Do you want
grapes or an apple?
Parents should be aware that the more children watch TV, the more they
are likely to become overweight. This is probably due to inactivity and
overeating. Parents should be aware of identifying learning problems
caused by physical disabilities (eyes, ears). This is the period for
toilet training. By age three, 84% are dry during the day but only 66%
are dry during the night. This should be a happy experience and not a
stressful experience for either child or parents. It requires patience
and time on the part of parents and the child. If toilet training is
overly strict before the proper age, it can produce what psychologist
call “anal personalities” in adults. The anal retentive personality
overemphasizes neatness, cleanliness, etc., and the anal personality
overemphasizes messiness, disorganization, and difficulty relaxing (American
Academy of Pediatrics, vol.3, # 1, 99).
This is the period for non-nutritional thumb sucking. The child makes
a natural transition from nutritional to non-nutritional sucking. By
ages 3-4, 84% are still sucking their thumbs. By age 4, 44% are still
sucking their thumbs. Teach your child how to use his/her hands and fingers
for creative things such as painting, coloring, playing ball, combing
the dolls hair rather than for sucking. You might get hand puppets for
you both and play games with them to teach the child to do this whenever
they get the urge to suck the thumb. Find a positive distraction that
the child likes.
Relationship with Family
This is a time for family and friends orientation. Weekly family special
time is important for this age group. It may seem difficult to manage
because of busy schedules, but it is essential. It will require one of
the parents to establish an agreeable weekly family time. This time may
vary from week to week. It may be a special hour at night just before
bedtime. It may include special weekend activities such as, Friday night
eating out, Saturday working in the yard, Sunday Church and afternoon
activity. It requires planning, cooperative, and commitment as a family.
The family who plays and prays together stays closer together. During
this age group, parents must understand that a house is a home to be
lived in by a very energetic child. Therefore, parents should come to
an agreement on the difference between messy and dirty. Then learn to
relax and enjoy rearing your child through this tornado period.
A child needs both parent’s attention and affection. A parent’s
attention and affection should be given as a gift to the child. The child
should never be made to feel he must earn a parent’s love. Our
heavenly Father teaches us this principle in Matthew 6:7-8, Luke 11:11-13,
and Romans 4:8. This is an important time for parents to become personally
involved in their child’s spiritual life (Deuteronomy 6:7). Take
them to church rather than send them to church.
Rules & Consequences for Discipline
Because of the short memory span, a ten-minute delay in discipline
instructions can disrupt the whole thing (such as a phone call). You
must address it immediately or it is lost until the next time.
This age group is capable of comprehending the repetition of simple
rules and consequence boundaries. They need boundaries. These boundaries
are important for this age because they are exploring the bigger world
around them, which can be very dangerous (such as playing in the street).
This age group has a 1 in 1000 chance of dying by an accident before
he reaches 16.
This is a time when the child may whine to manipulate you. The child
can be taught that this is unacceptable communication. You might teach
this to him by whining on occasions when he is talking to you normally.
Otherwise, he feels that you are mocking him and it can effect his developing
ego. Don’t mock him while he is doing it. However you can tell
him that whining is unacceptable communications and you will answer him
when he stops. You could use static of a radio to explain how whining
sounds when talking. Explain that you don’t understand what he/she
is saying because all you hear is static whining.
Parents often begin their children in children’s sports at this
age. This can be both a positive and negative experience. It can be positive
if it is fun, exercise, developing natural physical skills, learning
cooperation and competition and friendships. It can help the child learn
to play by rules and regulations. But, it can be negative when undo pressure
to achieve or unrealistic goals or physical injuries or parental interference
with a play time sport. Then it becomes all work and no fun. A parent
must be careful not to allow the child to lose normal playtime.
Light spanking with a loosely rolled newspaper for unacceptable misbehavior
or violating safety boundaries where physical injury or death could occur
is permissible. However, it should not be extreme nor over used. A little
pain goes a long way at this age!
Remember these eleven principles regarding discipline of this age:
1. Never use your hands, feet or teeth in discipline!
2. Never yell and yank to get child’s attention!
3. Never discipline in anger!
4. Always express parental discipline in love!
4. Always be in control of yourself before you try to be in control of your child!
6. Length of time-out is never greater than the age of the child (1
minute for each year of age)!
7. It is important for parents not to get distracted during time-out. They must deal with the child when their time is up. Don’t forget
8. It is important for the parent to explain why before and after discipline.
9. Parental love needs to be reinforced to assure the child that it
was bad behavior being discipline and not a bad child. He is always
an accepted child but with unacceptable behavior.
10. If the child violates time-out by willful defiance, then the child
could be spanked. You must instruct before and after the spanking.
Don’t send him back to time-out because it is over after spanking
11. Never get in a contest of wills with a 2-4 year old because you may
Fathers, do not exasperate your children,that they may not
lose heart.” (Colossians 3:21)