Parenting advice

There is a lot of parenting advice out there. Some of it asked for, some of it unsolicited. Some of it is good. Most of it is bad.

Almost all of it is nowhere near my way of thinking.

But there are a few good pointers out there that help me along the way. Especially recently when my challenges with the kids’ behaviour has made me feel completely inadequate in terms of my parenting.

To get my kids back on track, and this family back into harmony, I remind myself daily hourly every few minutes that they WANT to be taken care of. They WANT clear and concise parenting. They WANT limits, and NEED them.

Sure they’ll test them. That’s ok. But the bottom line always comes back to this:

Does the child KNOW what you EXPECT of him?

Really, we as parents should be asking ourselves this question every time we bark some order at a child. Making an aside comment to a visitor that “my kid never puts his toys away like this kid does” is a true indication that her child has probably never been told that this is an expectation (put your toys away before you take a new one out), and that there is a consequence for not following through on the expectation (no you can’t have this toy, put the other toy back on the shelf first).

This is a very loose example and not necessarily a very good analogy. My own kids don’t have to put every single toy away each time they want to play with another one. But this example does illustrate that you MUST clearly explain what you expect of the child.

Our 5yo will challenge us regularly every single morning about his morning routine. He KNOWS what is expected of him (get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, brush hair). He even has a poster he can consult, with pictures, to remind him of what is required of him, EXPECTED of him, to complete his morning routine.

Why is he challenging us to the point of exasperation every single morning?

The answer is because he can. Because he has been allowed to, by us, his parents, to make this single and most frustrating fuss every single morning. He doesn’t even realize that because of this challenge, he sets the tone for the rest of us (and not to mention is giving plenty of fodder for the toddler to copy).

Getting him back on track to just getting those few items accomplished every single morning without challenge, fuss or drama has been, well, challenging, fussy and rather dramatic. LOL.

What it meant for us parents was that we have a less orderly morning routine ourselves because we are needed to help enforce the expectation.

“No, you can’t play with that car now, let’s go look at your poster what’s next”.

“No, put that car away. Until you comb your hair you will not play with your car”.

It means that I drink lukewarm coffee, sometimes don’t get a shower in, and often don’t get an opportunity to eat breakfast.

“I don’t know where your bag is, you know you have to get it ready the night before”.

“If you need help getting your bag, just ask me politely instead of whining and complaining about it”.

Ok, I realize that my system is less than perfect. But it’s a work in progress. The point I’m trying to make is that my kids have a tremendous amount of freedom, which is fine. They are in childhood, after all. But as they get older, they are required to be active participants in this family, and in this family, this means that at certain times of the day certain things must happen in order for the family harmony to remain in place.

Bath-time comes to mind.

Why do we have a whine-fest every single night about bath-time?

The reasons are the same as above. Because they CAN whine about it. That’s why.

We’re working on it. It’s slow and tedious. But I know that they will find their place. I will help them get there. Hopefully without stumbling on too many blocks along the way…

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2 thoughts on “Parenting advice

  1. Can I challenge you here? You write:

    “The point I’m trying to make is that my kids have a tremendous amount of freedom, which is fine.”

    And at the same time you embed this in an article which basically demonstrates to me that you have expectations on your kids (time, for example, bath, for example)… and in it does not show us (the readers) that this guy has tremendous freedoms.

    Can you define *freedom* from your perspective and take a fresh piece of paper and define *freedom* for your kids? Is there a difference? How can you pull the two together?

    *****

    I am thinking it would be problematic to tell the boy that he has the freedom to use his breakfast morning routine himself, but why on earth does he need to have a bath every evening? Pick the hills you are willing to die on… OR…

    Unless he is peeing in his bed or clothing (or causing some other bodily mess, mud comes to mind)… my kids at that age were showering once a week… — the exceptions confirmed the rule. It happens on family night where we all have a favorite family meal and watch some good wholesome family tv like the Waltons or Little House. The kids know this — even the 3 year old, and they are very careful to get their own stuff done so that they can be part of family time…. Why even my teenager prefers to be part of the family time as opposed to going out for the evening!

    Get the point? There is something exciting happening AFTER the shower (or bath, whatever), something the kid cherishes.

    *****

    Those are just my two cents… I know that we don’t always see eye to eye and you know that I think your kids are great and it is refreshing to see such well adjusted (what a silly saying) children in today’s society.

  2. Parenting is tough! I find it the hardest thing I have ever done. I think the biggest thing for me is to stay consistent. Have family rules and consequences and enforce them. You probably know this is WAY easier said than done =) But we TRY, and that is good enough. We all turned out alright, didn’t we?

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