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What I’ve Learned From Working in the Preschool Ministry

What I’ve Learned From Working in the Preschool Ministry

What I've Learned From Working in the Preschool Ministry

    My son was born on July 31, 2008.  To prepare for the trials and travails of fatherhood, I spent my Sunday mornings working in our church’s preschool ministry.  It was really, really fun, and I look forward to getting back to it over the next couple of weeks (I’ve taken a hiatus because of travel and fatherhood).  In the process, I learned a lot about productivity, management, and life.  Here are a few lessons from working with kids:

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    1. It happens.  You know what I mean.  It happens, it’s messy, and it stinks.  It can always be cleaned up, though, and it is important to remember that “this too shall pass.”  And it passes pretty quickly: after a few icky minutes, everyone affected will be happy again soon.  It’s upsetting, but fretting about it won’t fix it.  The damage has been done, the diaper needs to be changed, and the kid is crying.  This isn’t the time to step back and think about strategy, meaning, or values.  This is the time to get the kid on the changing table, get the wipes, get a new diaper, and take care of business.

    2. Kids cry and kids bleed, but kids bounce back.  No matter what you do and no matter the adult-child ratio, accidents will happen and someone will end up crying, bleeding, or both.  This isn’t the time to lament circumstances or think about the meaning of life or your goals for the next five years.  It’s time to get the band-aids and peroxide and fix the problem.  This requires a steely resolve, too: peroxide on a scrape hurts, and a two-year old doesn’t understand that a little pain now is necessary to prevent more pain later. 

      There’s a leadership and management lesson here, too.  In the short run, it would be easy to pacify the child and let the wound go without proper treatment.  Dealing with a screaming kid who is irate about the fact that you’ve put peroxide on a scraped knee or elbow can be heart-wrenching.  In the long run, though, this creates problems in the form of potential infections and also signals that you aren’t doing your job.  You end up passing the buck to someone else and showing that you’re irresponsible.  In a child-care setting, I wouldn’t trust someone who is afraid to clean up scrapes and bruises.  In a management setting, the ability to grit your teeth and do what you know needs doing even over the protests of your subordinates will pay off in the long run.

    3. Keep your eyes open and be able to see the field when appropriate.  It’s you, a few other adults, and a swarm of screaming toddlers on a playground.  You can’t focus on just one kid or one group of kids for too long, nor can you let them monopolize your attention.  Other people under your supervision need your attention and your guidance, too.  For managers and leaders who are in a position where they have to develop others, it is important not to develop tunnel vision.

    4. Get into the action and have fun.  Aloofness is a vice among managers and knowledge workers.  Never be afraid to get your hands dirty.  If you’re working with toddlers, pretending to be the giant monster storming the Fisher-Price castle isn’t beneath your dignity.  It can also be a lot of fun.  Similarly, when the context is appropriate, don’t be afraid to interact in a meaningful way with your subordinates on projects they find important.

    5. Tell the truth, share, and don’t take things that don’t belong to you.  If you mess up, admit, be honest about it, and do what you need to do to fix it.  Share and share alike, but always remember not to take anything that doesn’t belong to you.  These are great lessons for the kids, and they’re great lessons for adults, too.

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    Last Updated on May 15, 2019

    How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

    How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

    As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

    “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

    When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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    Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

    We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

    But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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    So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

    It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

    1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

    Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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    2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

    This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

    You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

    3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

    This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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    4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

    How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

    So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

    If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

    And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

    Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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