THE A-Z MINI INSTRUCTION MANUAL FOR RAISING KIDS Part 3 Elizabeth Willis Barrett---June 16, 2010
(As I already said, I was having trouble with the alphabet. Maybe that’s why I left “F” off altogether. Here it is:)
Friends It is really important to know your kids’ friends. It is also important to know your kids’ friends’ parents. And besides that, it’s very important to know your kids’ friends’ siblings. A popular older brother or sister could wreak a lot of havoc on a young, innocent friend.
Quarreling Quarreling with a child is ridiculous, childish and ineffectual. Children quarreling with each other can sometimes be diminished by giving them opportunities to find common ground.
Responsibility Your job is to help your children become responsible adults, people who can take care of themselves. The children you do the most for, it seems, are the ones who keep expecting you to do the most for them. Even the smallest children can be expected to do daily age-appropriate chores. Although it would be easier to do everything yourself rather than prod an uncooperative, whining child through his chore chart, the rewards will come eventually as his efforts become real contributions to the household and he truly becomes responsible.
Sharing Children need to feel like they own something before they can share it. It is best to acknowledge their ownership of a given toy and ask if they would like to share. Often they’ll feel OK about sharing if they are given the opportunity to do it on their own without coercion.
Time Children take time—lots and lots of time—no matter what age they are. You have to understand that and be ready for it. And children don’t move fast when you want them to because time isn’t an issue with them. In addition, timing is everything. Well, at least vital. Kids are willing to have deep conversations only when they are ready. Trying to discuss things of importance on your time will get you nowhere. That means that when they are ready, you must be, too. When a child is really ready to talk to you, let other pressures go and be prepared to listen because, for most children, those times are few and priceless. Also, it is better to point out things they might have done wrong at a less threatening time than the present and at a time when they might be more willing to listen to you.
Understanding Remembering what you felt like when you were your child’s age will give you more understanding about what he is thinking and feeling. A child needs to feel that you understand him.
Vitality Do everything you can to make your body and mind healthy and well. Parenting children takes a lot of energy and it is so much more enjoyable when you have a great sense of well-being.
Wait Years ago I read a magazine article that said the most important four letter word for parents is WAIT. Instead of reacting or overreacting, just wait. You will be calmer, your child will usually be more compliant and the day’s events can continue without unnecessary drama.
Xpression I hate to be talked at, don’t you? It’s so easy to dismiss a child and his feelings that way. “Oh, you don’t really hate your brother. Now go wash up for dinner.” We all like to be talked with. It’s nice to know that someone is actually listening in earnest to what we have to say. Children feel the same. Listen to them. Look in their eyes and listen. When a child is upset, sometimes just knowing that he can express his feelings and actually be heard and understood helps dissipate his anger. Make it comfortable for him to talk to you about anything. Don’t condemn or criticize or he’ll take his concerns to someone else. Or he might suppress them, which would be worse. Parents are known to go off on lecturing monologues, thinking that their uncommon wisdom will sink deep into the child and change his behavior forever. But when the lecture begins, a child’s ears quit listening and your talk is a waste of time and energy. Some things are better left unsaid. Pray to know when to open your mouth and when to keep it prudently shut.
Yield Yield to your instincts. When my first child was being fussy one day, my well-meaning sister-in-law told me to just let him cry. So I did. He cried and cried and we soon found out that he had a strangulated hernia! He was only 3 weeks old. He was my baby. I should have listened to my own inner voice.
Zealot Become a zealot on your child’s behalf. Let him know that you will always be there to support and cheer him on—not just as one of the group but as his own magnificent, individual, and astounding self!
(So, there it is—my A-Z Mini Manual. Again, I’m not saying that I did all of these things but I wish I had done them and a whole lot more. Hope it helps somebody!)