Today isn’t going to be super deep, just celebrating getting something right and seeing the fruits of my preparation blossom, and I wanted to share this skill because I know I’ve seen how this improves our lives time and time again.
Something I have seen as a teacher is the importance of previewing activities. As a teacher, we preview to help students understand the objectives in a new lesson, to tie in previous learning to the new skills, and to clarify the purpose and procedure of the activity. Previewing is literally the best tool in my parenting toolbox because it prevents issues. Rather than be reactive to a crisis, previewing allows me to be proactive.
As a mom, I’ve learned that children really need to understand what to expect prior to a new activity. Kids naturally have concerns about anything unknown. The more we can preview upcoming events, the more smoothly things tend to go.
Yesterday was the perfect example of how my previewing new experiences helps my daughter cope. Yesterday, she had her very first dentist visit. She should have started going much earlier, but I became a walking medical emergency for the past two years, and finding a new dentist just got set aside for the more crucial crises, like spending months immobilized in a hip brace.
Around the age of two, I started previewing her trip to the dentist. I bought books about teeth and a trip to the dentist. We’ve read the book casually over the past two years. If I were planning for a more immediate event, I would read the book every week or everyday depending on how soon the new activity would be.
Every time Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood or Sesame Street talked about the dentist, I would talk to her about going, explain what the dentist does. The day of the dentist, we watched an episode of 19 Kids and Counting about taking all the smaller children to the dentist.
Then we got to the dentist. I had my visit first, so she could see that having my teeth cleaned was easy. She held my hand and asked me if it hurt or felt good. I smiled, told her it felt fine, that I wasn’t scared or nervous.
And she was all smiles. After the initial check of her teeth, she yelled, “It worked. My prayer worked! I’m not scared!” She continued to sit quietly (which was a feat in and of itself) and still during the teeth “sparkling.” Her teeth were perfect, and so was her behavior.
The visit was a success. She was so excited. She told everyone all day about going to the dentist. In fact, she was so overjoyed that I joked she doesn’t need Chuck E. Cheese, we’ll just plan her birthday party at the dentist.
Previewing the trip to the dentist helped her be prepared for what to expect. I did the same thing with her last round of immunizations, and she did great. I held her hand, looked in her eyes, and she almost cried, but we smiled together. She laughed and smiled while we put on the band-aids. She was so proud that she got four shots and didn’t cry. The nurses even let her choose two prizes from the treasure chest.
I always preview with a cheery, hopeful tone. I always talk about the importance of what we’re doing and give her confidence in her ability to go through whatever the situation is. We’re already previewing school and riding the bus with how to act and what the experience will be.
Last year, I previewed going to the library for the first time, so she would know how to behave and what to expect. We even previewed going to a friend’s birthday, so she would understand giving her a gift and not helping her blow out the candles.
I may never know how she would have handled the situations without previewing, but I know that she was able to face many new situations with confidence and joy. We were able to enjoy lots of new experiences together.
We all fear the unknown. As a parent, giving my daughter the confidence and knowledge to face new situations will prepare her to face many new things in the years to come.
As a Christian, knowing that my salvation is secure, that I can trust in the future in Heaven, helps me face the unknown here. My heavenly father previews the life of a Christian, that the world will be harsh and reject us, but that we can know we have eternal life through Jesus Christ.
1 John 5:13 ESV “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Reading the Bible, hearing God’s promises of salvation, forgiveness, and a home in Heaven for our eternity, helps us live with a peacefulness and grace even in the darkest times because we know we are not alone. God has already claimed victory.
Nothing has changed my heart, my life, my parenting than claiming this promise because it changed my entire perspective.