rebelling against low expectations

Lessons From a Three-Year-Old


I am one of the luckiest girls in the world. I am the oldest of four children. Jessica is twelve, Cael (whom we call “Boy”) is three, and Cadence is thirteen-months-old.

There are almost fourteen years between me and Boy and so I have gotten to observe his growing up process, more so than with my sister Jess. As I watch Boy grow and develop he has taught me many important lessons.

Pray about the little things


Recently Boy has developed a bedtime routine. My mom reads a story to him, they sing and then they pray together before he sleeps. Every night Mom asks him what he would like to pray for.

He has a list that some would consider strange and most would consider cute. The list consists of family members and friends and each of his favourite toys.

I sit in my room and listen to him praying with a smile on my face. It’s kind of funny that he wants to pray for his trucks and his teddies. However, I recently realised that I don’t thank God often enough for the little things in my life. God gave me everything I have and it’s good to take some time to thank Him for the “trucks and teddies” in my life.

Be enthusiastic


Every morning my brother says brightly “Morning! Sleep nice?”

The other day he gave my dad a high 5 for waking up “Good job Dad!” He claps for me and my sister after we practice a song on our instruments, he jumps up and down when we tell him we’re going out and he never fails to get excited when we say we’ll play with him.

He greets life with enthusiasm and he gets excited for things I wouldn’t normally take a second glance at. The attitude makes us all smile and we have learned to appreciate so much more because of his daily cheerleading.

Compliment people


Often I will hear “I like that…” coming from across the house in Boy’s bright tone. He tells Mom, Jess and I that we look pretty on a regular basis, tells us we’ve done a good job or simply says “Yay!!!” and claps his hands when we achieve something.

It makes everyone feel good about themselves and often we want to do even better next time because someone noticed what we did.

It doesn’t take that much effort but it shows that you care and it really lifts the other person’s spirits.

Ask for help


Children are so innocent and when they know that they can’t do something, they ask for help.

I don’t know why we lose this quality. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to look stupid because we can’t do something.

However I’ve learned that it’s nice to be asked for help because it means the other person believes in you. Not only that but when I ask for help the task is done faster and better giving both me and my helper satisfaction.

Keep trying


Even though Boy will ask for help when he needs it there are also times when he just tries again and again until he get whatever he is trying to do right.

He doesn’t give up easily and eventually he is able to do what he wants to.

This showed me that there’s a time to ask for help and a time to keep trying. The important part is that in the process I am learning how to do what needs to be done the best way possible.

Spend time with those you love

My brother always wants to sit or be with one of us and often invites us to join him in whatever he is doing at that moment.

Be it watching TV, playing a game, singing a song or reading he is always ready for company and isn’t scared to ask for it.

Yesterday I was busy working and he came into my room and sat with me in silence sharing his popcorn just so we could spend time together.

I feel special when he wants to be with me, so wouldn’t others if I made more of an effort to do the same?

Learn something new every day

Everything is interesting when you are three! He watches us closely and learns new words, new skills and develops new ideas with every passing day. He wants to know as much as he possibly can and I believe we can never get to a point where we need to stop learning new things.

Treat your parents like heroes


As far as boy is concerned, our parents can do anything! Eventually we do learn that our parents can’t do everything but they are still heroes.

They raised us, they taught us many of the important things in life, they are there to support us and to lean back on when we stumble.

We don’t often treat our parents like the heroes they are or show them our appreciation. Make an effort to do this more, they deserve it.

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About the author

AJ Timberlake

is a 16 year old homeschooler doing hard things in South Africa. Her life verse is Matthew 16:24 "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself take up his cross and follow me" She runs the blog and has a passion for making a difference.


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  • Haha! Thank you so much for this AJ! I’m the oldest of eight kids and so often forget how amazing my younger siblings are. I also forget that I can learn from them! This was a great reminder overall! 🙂

  • 🙂 I certainly did. Do you mind if I ask if you live in South Africa? Your bio just says you are doing hard things there.

  • This is wonderful. I work with the three to four year old Sunday School class at my church. And I have to admit…it can be hard to be stern with them when you need to. They’re so innocently funny. This is so cute. Thanks for writing, AJ! 🙂

  • This article is amazing! I am the oldest in my family and there is a 5 year age difference between me and my little brother, who turns 10 next week. He acts like Boy does most of the time and it honeslty gets on my nerves. I don’t think I can ever have the same about of paitence as you do!

  • Hi AJ! I really liked your article ! Would you mind if I translate it maybe to use it on the french website ‘la Rebellution’ ? (:

  • This is really inspiring to me. I think of my brothers and sister (me, being the oldest of the six) and how often I forget them. Praying about the little things, and spending time with them isn’t something I’ve taken the time to do very often. This is a refreshing wakeup-call, reminding me that some people might never have a brother. Thanks for putting this up. It’s incredibly motivating for me, and anyone else who reads it. It shows you how much God truly desires faith like a child, or in your case, “faith like a Cael”

  • Thanks for this article AJ! I am also the oldest in a family of four kids and my youngest sibling is almost three. This is a wonderful reminder that there are countless lesson to be learned from our younger siblings, we simply have to be looking for them 🙂 Thanks again!

  • Wow, if everyone could be like your brother the world would be great! Thanks for the very interesting article AJ!

    God Bless,


  • Thank you for posting this. I think I can speak for most of the people on this site that we find it hard to buckle down and learn from people that are younger than us because we think we are so much better and we let pride get in the way

  • Thank you so much! I’m the oldest of four children too, but the youngest is now nine. I can almost remember those times when I saw the world like Cael does. Now, I only have one younger 3-year-old cousin. I smile at her, she smiles at me. Those special moments when you just laugh because the 3-year-old is. Time for me to go and thank God for the little things too!

  • i am the oldest of five and home schooled so i have been able to see these things happening for myself in my littlest siblings. It’s amazing what you can learn from the little ones in your life.this was a beautiful reminder to enjoy the people you love and to be thankful for the little things in life.

  • I love this, you look at childrens behavior in a totally new way, for a while now ive thought of it as just cute or funny (and sometimes annoying but now i realize that there is a different side to that and sometimes acting like three-year olds isnt such a bad thing

  • This is great!! 🙂 There’s almost 12.5 years between me and my little sister. It is awesome getting to watch them grow up, and even Jesus shared that we have to come to him through the heart of a child… with innocence and a joyful heart. It is also really cool to see how children lots of times reflect the hearts of the parents and older siblings/influences in their lives. It is humbling to be a role model. If your heart is called to serve with children, do it! Even though sometimes it may seem like toddlers understand a relationship with Christ, their hearts are true and they will follow along with what they see. It is very rewarding to serve children in my experience. 🙂

    I’m an older rebelutionary, and I’m 32 weeks pregnant with my first child, and it is so cool (but incredibly scary) to know that my husband and I are the primary caregivers to such a tiny being, and that we will be the largest role models for this little guy.

By AJ Timberlake
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →