You’ve probably read the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Horowitz. Being “out of sorts” is common for most of us. We don’t like it when things don’t go our way or we feel frustrated, confused, or anxious.
Children have a way of letting us know how they are feeling, and often they do this without using words. We learn about their feelings and needs by watching and listening.
For example, a child may need some quiet time and a little space when she gets to church. (Many of us know what that feels like.) Perhaps her morning has been rushed with no time for playing even a little before leaving home. Or maybe the weekend has been busy with family activities that fatigued everyone. Or could it be that a family member has been sick or away from home and the child is confused or sad? How does the child let you know how she feels and why?
Younger preschoolers do not have all the words yet to tell you how they feel. How can you know what they are saying without talking?
- Read children’s faces, their movements, their expressions.
- Observe changes in behavior that signal stress or need.
- Listen with your heart and your eyes.
- Assist children by letting them know you love them and care about them.
- Give your time and attention to children and help them know they are important to you.
- Chat with parents to discover changes in children’s routines, family life, and physical needs.
Reading children’s cues, whether verbal or nonverbal, is important to meeting their needs. Ask God to give you a clear vision of children’s needs and show you ways to help.
Rachel Coe is content editor for Explore the Bible: Preschoolers resources. She engages preschoolers in Bible learning and explorations at her church in Mt. Juliet, TN.