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Little Cards for Tuck-Me-In Time

Little Cards for Tuck-Me-In Time

Bedtime had arrived for our preschooler, Kim. She reached under her pillow the moment she jumped into bed. Then, wearing a wide grin, she retrieved and opened a zip-locked bag stuffed with little cards. Each card featured one question. “What does it say?” she’d ask, handing the card of her choice to her dad.

One evening the question read, What’s the best way to eat spaghetti? “With my hands,” Kim answered.

“Why not chopsticks?” asked her dad.

“No, not chopsticks,” said Kim. “The noodles would fall off!”

“Maybe an ice-cream scoop,” he suggested.

“No, Silly. Scoops are only for ice-cream,” said Kim. “Ice-cream is cold but spaghetti is hot, so a scoop won’t work.” The preschool logic made her dad smile.

Their banter ended, and Kim returned the card to the bag. Then she crawled under her covers, said her bedtime prayer, and kissed us goodnight.

Kim, now 28, fondly remembers that bedtime tradition. So do I. My husband and I adopted it upon Kim’s kindergarten teacher’s suggestion. She said it would provide a positive end-of-the-day routine, build imagination and language skills, and encourage an intentional connection between parents and kids.

Truth be told, at first we wondered whether or not the effort was worth it. Like most parents of young children, we felt exhausted at day’s end. Starting a conversation at bedtime with Kim seemed counterproductive if we hoped to enjoy a few quiet moments alone. Then again, we longed to connect with her, so we tried it. We discovered it was a small investment with huge returns.

Questions such as, Pretend you’re a fish swimming in the ocean. What do you see underwater? stimulated Kim’s imagination. Storytelling skills developed with questions like, Tell me about your day. What was the best part? We explored emotions, using questions such as, Show me a sad face. What makes you feel sad? And letter and sound recognition developed with questions such as, List five words that begin with the letter “b.”

Kim’s cognitive growth proved to be a positive return, but we saw other benefits, too. These became obvious in her teen years. It appeared that our intentionally connecting with her helped build a strong self-identity that, in turn, enabled her to deflect peer pressure and make wise decisions.

I remember those preschool days when moms with older kids or empty nests told me to enjoy my offspring because they’d grow up and leave home before I could blink. Some days I doubted their wisdom, but now I pass along the same advice. The window of wide-eyed openness and opportunity to lay healthy, lasting foundations closes far too soon. The more, and the earlier on, we engage with our youngsters, the stronger our influence will be. And the stronger our influence is, the less likely culture, media, and peers will sway them later.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to encourage our kids’ spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical well-being. The tuck-me-in bedtime tradition proved to be a valuable method of accomplishing that goal in our family. Give it a try. You might find it helpful, too.

By: Grace Fox is a popular international speaker, global worker, and the author of eight books including Tuck-Me-In Talks With Your Little Ones (Harvest House Publishers). She’s the mother of three married children and grandma to the world’s five cutest kids. Visit www.gracefox.com to learn more about her resources.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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