Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Kids Are Always Late - HELP!

I run most mornings.  Neighborhoods are busy at that hour!!  Last week an elementary age boy flew from his house, jacket flying akimbo, backpack loosely in his grip and yelling “Noooooooooooooo” as he unsuccessfully chased the bus…..

Today I saw his Dad pulling into the driveway in an apparent hurry – slammed the car door and flew into the house.  I can only assume that little guy again missed the bus and Dad picked up the pieces by driving him the 4 blocks to school.

Yesterday, I saw a van zooming into a driveway, and ejecting a girl who ran inside.  Within seconds she emerged, jumped into the van and it flew back the way it came - towards the school 6 blocks away.  I wonder what she forgot!

Morning Drama!!!

So, what did these kids learn about responsibility and solving their own problems?  I would suggest, absolutely nothing! 

My thoughts?  Teach these 3rd and 4th graders to safely walk to school.  We live in a very walkable, safe neighborhood.  I would walk with them a few times, pointing out safety rules, neighbors we know and what to do in an emergency.  Then I would let them walk by themselves.  Maybe I would walk or drive behind them a few times.  Maybe I would let my friends know that they are walking. Maybe I would talk to some other Moms and get several kids walking together.  Of course, I want them to be safe.

But kids who are never allowed to be independent are robbed of precious opportunities to learn to think and solve life’s problems. Many parents are so frightened by our world that they don’t ever teach their kids to cope with it.  Think long and hard about that; they are going to be living in this world a long time.

Kids usually want more freedom so the idea of walking by themselves may be very appealing.  If it isn’t, they can always take the bus!!

After I am comfortable with their safety, I would announce that getting to school on time is from this day forward, completely their responsibility. They can walk, they can take the bus.  If they miss the bus, I will expect them to walk.  If they forget something, they can go without it or come back to get it.   Unplanned walking may make them late to school.  If there are school consequences for being late, so be it.  However, if being late should result in a call or note from school, I will ground them from all outside activities for that weekend. Oh, and I will not nag or threaten as they get themselves out the door.

Now the problem is on their shoulders, not mine.  They are likely going to make a few mistakes, but they will learn!  And in learning they will become more responsible and independent – all characteristics they are going to need to navigate the teen years and later, to become successful adults.

In the meantime, parents, enjoy a second cup of coffee - reminding yourself that parenting should NOT be the hardest thing you have ever done!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Workshop at Clarence Center Elementary

There are still some slots open for my workshop series on April 17th and 24th (6:30-8:30PM).  Call Christine or Michele at 407-9150 to register.  Funded by Still in One Peace Crisis Services, there is no cost to participants.

This is an interactive, often humorous workshop that presents the basic Rosemond parenting principles and then helps parents apply them to their own parenting concerns.

Typical topics range from defiance to bedtime hassles, from lying to homework problems.  This is a wonderful opportunity to understand John Rosemond's traditional, common sense parenting framework while developing real solutions to specific problems.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Your Child at Age 30!

I often invite parents to describe the adult they hope their child will be at age 30.  In response, they say things like kind, caring, humble, respectful, responsible, a good citizen and a good neighbor.

No one has ever said: rich, famous, a snob or self-important.

Yet many parenting approaches put the focus exactly there.  We put kids into every activity we can - dance lessons, music lessons and sports teams.  Then we find ways to give them repeated, over the top praise.   If they get a bad grade or in trouble at school, we tell them it is the teacher or another student’s fault.   If they complain about how hard their homework is, we sit at their side to help, believing that frustration will make them feel they are a failure.

In the name of “protecting their self-esteem” we take away the gift of accomplishing what they can on their own.  We tell them they are successful, even when they aren't.  They become self-centered kids who believe they are entitled to a life of ease, praise and instant success.

We rob them of the opportunity to develop confidence and real life skills.  Sadly, I have seen lots of kids who believed they were supremely talented, wonderful and rightfully at the center of everyone else’s universe.  When they went off to college or work, many fell flat on their face as they began to experience some of life’s harsh realities.   They simply had no experience in figuring things out for themselves or humbly understanding that life is not ever perfect.

A young lady I know recently went on a mission trip to Peru.  While it says a lot that she would give up spring break to go to an impoverished country to live in dirt and squalor, I was perhaps most impressed by her blog title:

“Little Jessica, Big World”

Great  statement! She knows she is a small cog on the great big wheel we live in.  She had the courage to go far from home, give up her comfort and fun in order to serve others.  She knows there is a larger picture than a self-absorbed life.

Don’t worry too much about your child’s self-esteem.  Give them lots of opportunities to explore their world, to learn how they can impact on it and to be successful in their own small ways.   Small successes breed self-confidence and give children the will to try harder things.  Self-confident people don’t need others to build their self-esteem – it comes from within them.

Give your children responsibilities in the home and in the community.  Expect them to fight most of their own battles – your belief in them will build far more confidence than solving problems for them!

Let your children know that they are simply small parts of a great big world that they share with millions of other equally important, equally talented and equally valuable people.  Give them the experiences they need in order to grow into the adult you hope they will be at age 30!