I sometimes say too much!
I argue, explain and threaten when I should be quiet.
I help and do when I should let be and let the [the kids] figure it out.
There is a balance that needs to be struck. Somewhere between helicopter parenting and permissive parenting. It isn’t, for me, a static balance but a daily recalibration and periodic reviews and change.
Here is a list of cool things I’ve read thus far this week.
Homework: Help or Hassle As someone who didn’t like homework I was all for it being abolished. Paradoxically, I did best in those classes where I made an attempt to do homework. Here is a nice quote from the piece,
The core idea of homework is that it’s used to polish concepts and reinforce lessons outside of the classroom. It is what it has become — a way for teachers to teach less and cover more material — that is not useful. I don’t think that all of the fuss is positive; personally, I think lots of students just don’t want to do it. If used properly, the idea of working at home on a study topic can be very helpful.
To trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves…and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted. —John Holt
Can Toddlers Really Read I’m sure that my kid comprehends the words and stories she recognizes but it is not independent, pick up a random book and read and I believe the author of this piece misses that distinction. I wholeheartedly agree that we should start reading early and often to our kids, whether the learn to “read” or not.
Do you take it personally when your children don’t follow your instructions or otherwise misbehave? No? Then you are better than I. I take it personally if I say do x and they do y or simply don’t do x. I take it personally if they refuse to eat the food we prepared. I take it personally and I fume and fuss, I yell and I’m not always on my best behavior. I’m not proud of it but it is part of being “woefully human.”
What to do?
One route would be to try to understand why you’re taking it personally and work on “fixing” that response. Here is what I’ve found, its hard/nigh impossible to not take it personally. I am deeply invested in this person and their well being, of course I am going to take it personally. What’s a dad to do? I didn’t try to change that I was taking it personally, rather I acknowledged that this feeling may be the driver of my behavior. From here I sought to modify my behavior, i.e the yelling, fussing and “bad behavior”.
Feeling personally “attacked” by your kid is part of the human condition.
You can’t always stop the feeling of being attacked.
You can change your response (behavior) to the feeling of being attacked.
Changing feelings is harder than modifying behavior.
Joanna Macy talks about uncertainty.
We can’t always be certain and the tendency is to make things very certain for our kids. A noble idea and overall very good but there is something to be gained by sometimes allowing them to struggle within that uncertainty.
See more about not letting a crisis go to waste.
This is a re-post of a post from v1 of this blog back in its wordpress.com days. Originally published: August 2009
A while back we—my wife—had a doctor’s appointment and had told our two year old as much. Problem solved! When we got there he seemed happy and unconcerned. We went to the Radiology department, for a sonogram of my wife’s gallbladder, and she had to leave through the door that closed and we couldn’t follow. Problem not solved!
I had forgotten a key concept in helping our children to deal with emotional situations. The concept of “Giving them Words.” Why is this necessary? This is necessary because we learn largely by example and our brains are pattern matching machines. In this specific instance my 2 year old needed help in understanding what was going on during this big event. Left to his own it was just as if mom had disappeared and wouldn’t return while bad things happened to her. Not a comforting situation to a two year old.
Now that I had been smacked in the head by the broken-hearted, banshee wail of my son, I got my act together quickly. I explained that mom was going to have a big camera—complete with appropriate hand gestures— placed on her belly and a picture taken. I assured him she was safe—a word he was previously introduced to—and repeated this a few times. Full meltdown averted. The idea of the camera stuck and it was all he could talk about, relaying it to mom when she returned.
Why did this work? First off this would have worked better if before we got there I had explained the situation in the above terms. However, this worked because I used words/concepts my 2 year old understood e.g camera, safe. I used big expressive gestures to convey some emotionality similar in “bigness” to his emotional state. In the end this allowed him to come to his own, non-traumatic, understanding of “what happened to mommy.”