Archive for February, 2015

PAYING ATTENTION

February 27, 2015

There was a time when you carefully monitored your child.  When learning to walk or even crawl, children find ways to crash and wound themselves, but when a child reaches about two, it’s time to step back and let them “wing” it.  I know it is a difficult decision, to stand back and watch that adventurous toddler reach for the far away ring or that first bar on the “monkey” bars.  It is far better to offer help, then step back and let the little explorer go for it.  If the child misses or falls offer your sympathies and then encourage them to try it again.  This action makes for self-confident children and later confident  adolescents and adults.

Helicopter parents who hover all the time, make for dependent and timid children.  Far too soon children are faced with new situations and the absence of “hovery” parents.  Many children have no skill-set for facing into the wind and attacking new problems.  These children are frozen.  Mommy and Daddy aren’t there to tell them what to do or how to approach the new situation. When they become adults, these children live in fear of making the wrong decision or facing a foreign situation.

Two children in a family I know are excellent examples of this situation.  The oldest child raised to the age of three by his single mother worries, and has little self-confidence.  His younger brother raised in a relaxed atmosphere of encouraging parents has been known to do back flips off of the living room sofa since the age of two.  Rather than making the second child fearful, the parents merely taught child number two the correct way to land the back flip and suggested there were better places than the sofa from which to execute a back flip.  Gymnastics classes are being explored.

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SOMETIMES THE HARD WAY IS THE ONLY WAY

February 20, 2015

We nurture them, love them, and protect them, but sometimes children just have to go off and learn the “hard way.” I’m not advocating that we let them jump off a cliff or walk a tightrope between buildings, but sometimes they won’t listen and we aren’t there when children decide to venture off on their own and learn their own lessons. My son who has the active three-year-old brought home this lesson this week. I thought I’d share it with you.

Halted by a raging snowstorm on the playground, the boys, aged seven and three, were confined to the mini-van waiting for their mother. The three-year-old was fascinated with some dog “perfume” they had purchased earlier. My son cautioned “Mr. Curious” on numerous occasions to put the spray bottle down and at one point removed the bottle from Mr. Curious’s hands and placed it in a spot my son considered safely away. Luckily the bottle was “safe” for dogs and apparently small boys because Mr. Curious located the spray bottle and proceeded to spray himself. My son carted Mr. Curious off and washed him down. “I just don’t understand,” my son explained shaking his head.

“Well,” I countered. “Sometimes the hard way is the only way for children to learn a lesson.” I doubt the three-year-old will ignore is lesson and of course will at least consider the consequences of his actions before he sprays himself the next time. He smelled a bit strange afterward but this lesson didn’t end with tragedy.

As parents we think we can protect our children from the bad in the world. It’s a scary place out there. We can give them the tools to survive, but we can’t always save them from learning the hard way.

OVERLOOKING THE LITTLE THINGS

February 13, 2015

Sorry folks, I’m still on parenting ideas.

I could have added and they are all little things to the title of this blog. Someone once said you should pick your battles and I agree one hundred percent. I remember getting a spanking for such minor things as the way I supposedly “looked” at my mother. Generally I was gazing off into the future and have no idea how I “looked” at her which provoked the spanking.

Some parents would have panicked or threatened at one telephone call I received at work when my son was about sixteen and my daughter was eleven. It was one of the little things and it changed my view on teenaged communication.
“Mom” came my daughter’s voice. “Do we have any kirsch?”
“Kirsch? What do you need that for?”
“I’m making a surprise.”
Surprises scare me and this one had all the makings of a disaster. Trying to maintain my calm exterior, I went on, “What do you need kirsch for?”
“I’m making supper and it says you need it to flambé.”
“Flambé!” I was nearly screaming now. “What are you doing?” I added with visions of the entire house going up in smoke while I was working thirty miles away unable to prevent the disaster.
“The Bon Appettit cookbook had this recipe and we had all the ingredients for this one, so I’m making it for supper.”
“Go get your brother.” I stammered into the receiver.
A brief silence ensued.
“Hi Mom, is she in trouble?” came the ever hopeful voice over the phone.
“No son, I don’t know what she is making for supper, but I want you to grab the lid to whatever skillet she is using. When she lights a match and the juice starts flaming I want you to slam the lid on the top of the skillet and put it out. I’m going to stay on the telephone until your done.” I heard voices in the background and in what was several seconds but felt like years, the clang of the skillet lid.
“Okay, it’s out.” My son’s calm voice came over the line.
“You’re sure?”
“Yeah, and it smells delicious.”
“Okay, I can hardly wait for supper.” I added. “I love you both and we’ll be home in about a hour.”
That was my daughter’s first venture into cooking. The Black Forest Pork Chops she made not only smelled, but tasted delicious. Now in her thirty’s I sometimes ask her to repeat that first dish. She’s an excellent cook.

Thankfully, I managed to managed to make flambe’ing one of the little things and I’ve never been sorry. A spanking or even a verbal assault would have never worked in this instance. I’m not suggesting you should allow your eleven-year-old to cook unsupervised, but taking it in stride worked for me.

Thoughts on Parenting:Threats and Rewards

February 6, 2015

My 7-year-old grandson hates school. This is a new problem to me since I couldn’t wait to escape the confines of the lonely (read that as no kids my own age) ranch existence. School was my favorite place to be. But not my grandson, this week he went as far as missing the school bus to avoid the dreaded place.

This problem left me thinking about the best method for luring him into an enjoyment of learning. Unlike some children, threats do not work with this child. He cries, but there is no modification in his behavior and a promise of rewards doesn’t work either.

He desperately wants an X-box. I suggested he earn one by doing chores around the house. Since he already refers to school as work, he might earn a bit of money to help pay for the game system. With a sigh he told me that would take forever and he wanted it now. He acknowledged that adults have to “pay” for items and no one “gives” them the things they want, but he insisted that he should be given these things anyway.

I’ve decided that in this case my good old parenting skills weren’t working and perhaps I’d have to capitulate on this one. Threats aren’t working and neither is a promise of rewards. His parents are throwing in the towel and returning his I-Pad to his biological father, even this drastic measure hasn’t succeeded.