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Q&A My Perspective

Q&A My Perspective: How Can I Avoid Going to Heaven?

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Q&A My Perspective: How Can I Avoid Going to Heaven?

QUESTION:

My four year old daughter has been thinking about what happens when one grows old, goes to heaven and why. I explained that taking really good care of your body and your mind is very important and when we are here, we need to take really good care of ourselves. Now she asks “will jumping on the trampoline make me not go to heaven?” I’m stuck…any ideas?

MY PERSPECTIVE:

Kudos! You gave a her a great response to an inevitable question! Developmentally, a four year questioning the unknown aspects of death is as common as gluten intolerance these days. And her follow up question is fabulous because it proves she is listening and ingesting your words. Excellent!

The tricky part is, in her mind, she asked a  simple black and white question. In our minds, the land of the gray, we hear a complex question filled with varied emotion and multiple answers. Immediately, we may recall our own fears and discomfort with death, our experiences, others’ experiences and even what could be our experience if our minds let us go there.  Yet, all she really asked was “So I need to stay healthy to not go to heaven. Is the trampoline my ticket to stick around?” (Or some 4 year old version of this question)

A response as simple as “Jumping on a trampoline doesn’t mean you won’t ever go to Heaven. We will all go to Heaven. The trampoline is great for your body and keeps your mind happy, so when you do go to Heaven someday, you can be proud of yourself for taking such good care of yourself while you were here.”  The key is to answer in black and white, not the gray we get stuck in.

If she wants more and seems to have fear associated with it, this could be an opportunity to explore with her what she thinks Heaven is.  The key to decreasing anxiety is making an unknown a known.  Ask her what does it look like, smell like, feel like? If its supposed to be so wonderful, why are we afraid to go there and trying to avoid it?

And perhaps she’s giving you an opportunity to explore this yourself.

Either way, if you speak from your heart, you can’t go wrong. And if you don’t speak from your heart, she’ll likely ask you over and over again until you do.  They’re funny little creatures like that.

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Q&A My Perspective: When Your Child Doesn’t Value Personal Hygiene As Much As You Do

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Q&A My Perspective: When Your Child Doesn’t Value Personal Hygiene As Much As You Do

QUESTION

Why can’t my ten year old daughter take responsibility for her own personal hygiene?  If I do not remind her constantly, she leaves too much conditioner in her hair, does not brush her teeth (even though she has recently experienced getting a cavity filled), does not put on her deodorant, brush her hair or wash her face (even though acne is becoming an issue).  She is also unable to comb or brush her hair to get the knots out.  I have a checklist on the back of the bathroom door which does not help. Short of standing at the bathroom door to police her – I do not know what to do!!!

 

MY PERSPECTIVE

Its not that she can’t, it’s that she doesn’t want to. 🙂

Not too long ago, she had the luxury of not needing to shower or bathe every day, someone either brushing her teeth for her or reminding her to brush her teeth, not needing deodorant and someone who would gladly brush her hair and maybe even throw some bows in it!  That was her routine, her pattern, her expectation and now that expectation has changed, but not on her terms.

Think of it like someone washing the dishes for you every day after each meal and then one day saying, it’s your job to do it from now on.  It has to get done, you need clean dishes, but it’s not that fun.  So what happens? You let the dishes stack up a little longer in the beginning, maybe for a day or two, they get stinky, you run out of dishes and then you have to wash them so you can eat again.  After a while, you start to notice that it’s not that bad if you do it once a day and eventually right away…you just have to figure it out for yourself on your terms.

Although your daughter has experienced direct consequences for her sometimes lax attitude on consistent hygiene (acne and cavities), it is likely not uncomfortable enough for her to truly change her habits…yet.  Hopefully you won’t have to wait till the big drills come out for her teeth and she’s on a first name basis with a dermatologist until she notices the influence her behavior plays on her health and hygiene, but they are a stubborn lot these kids.

With that said, I have a 10 year old who needs CONSTANT reminding as well to cut her nails, take a shower, brush her teeth, etc, etc…and also personally know the nagging/reminding is essential in helping them develop the new pattern of taking responsibility for their own hygiene.  I also notice my own frustration that she’s not picking up the habits I’d like her to develop nearly as fast as I’d prefer.

The checklist is always good.  It’s a helpful reminder of what needs to happen.  If her lax attitude is really bothering you, then I would suggest attaching a consequence for not completing whatever is on that checklist, but make the consequence as related to the behavior as possible….like no friends over until you consistently get in the habit of taking care of your body because no one wants to hang with the smelly kid.  Maybe that seems extreme, but the key is to help them identify a way to create a new habit that works for them and some type of reward system can be helpful in motivating that.

I am a big fan of making sure my kids know what their list of responsibilities are…which includes personal hygiene and making healthy food choices, as well as knowing what their list of privileges are.  The rules remain basic, if you don’t maintain your responsibilities, you don’t earn any privileges.  And privileges include all kinds of things like playing with electronics, having friends over, participating in extra curricular activities and having dessert. Cause and effect, a lesson in life.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a poem inspired by my own dirty children.

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Q&A My Perspective: Dealing with Challenging In Law Relationships

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Q&A My Perspective: Dealing with Challenging In Law Relationships

QUESTION

How do you deal with challenging in laws and not let your feelings affect your children’s feelings?

MY PERSPECTIVE

The beauty of life is that we always have a choice.  We choose which clothes to wear (the clean or the dirty), which food to eat (the healthy or the indulgent), and which way we choose to look at our choices (deeming them good or bad).

We can choose to look at our “challenges” whichever way we like.  We can see the tough relationships we engage in as completely worthless or as an opportunity to grow.  Like when your 9th grade boyfriend’s sister decided she didn’t like you and convinced him you were not worth his time, so he broke up with you.  And then you were shattered for 3 days straight until the 11th grade hottie asked you out and then you realized it really was an opportunity to grow!

Okay, but in post high school terms…you met your spouse and fell in love with the aspects of them that were created not only by their personal achievements, but by the way they were raised.  Your spouse’s parents may not be perfect, they may not meet your mold or expectations of what you want in parents, or in laws or maybe even acquaintances, but they are a part of your life for a reason.

You have the choice on how you want to look at that reason.  Will they help you grow and gain clarity on what aspects of the relationship you want to enhance? Or will they help you recognize the qualities in them that you don’t care for that you also don’t like in yourself that you don’t want to flourish.  Identify what you like and what you don’t like—specifically.  And then decide what you want to do with each aspect.

For example, if you like the way they make your spouse feel important, focus on that. Had they not built up your spouse’s self esteem, they may never have had the courage to date you.  If you like the way they buy your child a new outfit for every season, focus on that.  Send them pictures of your child in the outfit to show your appreciation.  Appreciation breeds appreciation…it just does.

If you don’t like the way they ignore you or make you feel like you are second fiddle, notice if that is something you do to others in your life.  If it is, hone in on those relationships and start to pay more attention to those who may feel ignored by you.  You will start to sense a reason why you ignore them and will have a better understanding of why you may be ignored…jealousy, insecurity, feelings of loss of power.  The more you do this and recognize it, the less you will notice when someone is doing it to you, because you will feel your importance regardless of what is happening around you.  And believe me, I get it that it sounds a little hokey, but just trust me on this one.

As for how your feelings will impact your children, it is yet another choice. Will you respect the relationship and accept it or will you reject the relationship and all that goes with it?

Developing a respect for the relationship, despite your personal opinion of it, will create a few different cool things, one being acceptance of the relationship.  You don’t have to like it to accept it.  In fact, you don’t have to like them to accept them.  Nor do you have to be like them or relate to them in anyway to accept them.  You can simply accept that they are who they are and it doesn’t make them horrible human beings, it just makes them different than you. Perhaps that’s why your partner is drawn to you to begin with. 🙂

Embrace the difference, don’t judge it. Because the reality is, whether you judge up close or from a distance, the only person who feels that judgment is you.  And why do that to yourself if you have the option not to?

The more that you accept them and the relationship they have in your family’s life, the more your children will sense your acceptance and feel the same.  You are modeling acceptance, no matter what it looks like.  What we model is what we teach.

Or you can reject the relationship.  You can reject it mildly or you can reject it with every outspoken part of your personality.  Either way, your partner feels the rejection, their parent feels the rejection and your children feel the rejection.  Your children will then question their own relationship with them and never quite know what is okay to feel when they sense the pull of two directions. Do you want them to choose and if you do, who will it benefit?

Not an easy choice, but it does have a definitive solution if you are willing to do the work to get to it.  Sometimes the best way to solve the problem is to fix its root.  And when you fix the root, you are left with the full enjoyment of what blooms.

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Q&A My Perspective: The Thumb Sucking Controversy

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Q&A My Perspective: The Thumb Sucking Controversy

QUESTION

I have a wonderful, energetic, fun spirited, social, loving 3 year old daughter. She has been sucking her thumb since infancy. She only does so when she is tired or nervous.  I’ve read various ways to encourage her to refrain from sucking her thumb without any success. Others are quick to share their insight and horror stories (mine didn’t stop till she was 9….my doctor says that he has to stop by 3 otherwise his permanent teeth will be affected…mine stopped when she was made fun of at school) and try not to get discouraged knowing that eventually she will stop however I want to provide support and help for her to stop.

 

MY PERSPECTIVE

I have to admit, I am such a non alarmist when it comes to this stuff.  I actually have a deformed thumb due to chronic thumb sucking as a kid and the only downside it has seemed to give me is the inability to ever have been a hand model…which is a shame because I have really nice hands otherwise.

But really, it always comes down to behavior and why the behavior is occurring.  Right now, her thumb sucking is habitually filling a need.  It sounds like it calms her and it works for her.  Until she feels that this behavior no longer serves its purpose, she will continue to suck her thumb.

So what can you do?  If you are concerned with long term impacts, help her identify when and why she sucks her thumb and come up with some replacement behaviors.  If she instinctually sucks her thumb at night time, maybe offer her a new sippy cup filled with water to replace the thumb to take “relaxing sips” to help with the oral fixation.  Or a different replacement item that she chooses.

If she sucks her thumb in social situations where she is uncomfortable, have some comfort items available to distract her from her normal patterns if you don’t want her sucking her thumb, but explain to her why so she understands.  You are really just replacing one habit for another at this point, until she is old enough to understand how to make the switch on her own, but developmentally, she may not be there, so you will have to help her come up with the alternatives.

In the meantime, it will be helpful to start teaching her self soothing techniques that relax her mind. I am a huge fan of guided meditation CDs for kids that teach them positive affirmations, muscle relaxation and little stories of how to handle challenging emotions.  Plus they always knocked me out when I listened with them…

But in the long run, as you stated, she won’t suck her thumb forever.   Just like they eventually stop peeing their pants and move on from the binky, it happens.  Something will trigger her to change it up and move on.  And if you support her in finding that trigger, go for it, but try not to beat yourself up when you recognize that just like everything else, she’ll change her own behavior when she’s good and ready.

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Q&A My Perspective: Healing the Parent/Child Relationship

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Q&A My Perspective: Healing the Parent/Child Relationship

QUESTION

As I sit here and try to think of the best way to convey my question, my heart is in anguish with tears pouring down my face. About a year and half ago I became addicted to pain medication that I was prescribed for a back injury I sustained in a car accident. It spiraled out of control last February ending with a protective order being filed so I couldn’t contact my 12 year old son’s mother or him and I ended up choosing to go into a 9 month substance abuse program that helped veterans. This was clearly my fault. Up until this point in time his mother and I had never really disagreed on anything and we haven’t been together since he was 2. We had never been to court. We just agreed on visitation and child support. I paid her child support every week and I pretty much got him whenever I wanted. We were VERY close. I coached his little league teams from when he was 4 until he was 9. I was always very active in his life. Well, long story short I graduated the program and got a court order to get some visitation back. I have not been able to have any contact with him for a year now and have not been able to see him at all.  My question is…I have supervised visitations starting next week and while I’m ecstatic that I am finally going to get to see him, I am very nervous and I don’t even know what to say to him. I know the number one thing is being honest. I just want to make sure I do everything right. I know it is going to take a lot of time and a lot of consistency to earn his trust and respect again. I’m just hoping you may have some helpful advice to give me going into this.

 

MY PERSPECTIVE

First of all, you have already done the hard work.  You recognized that you chose a behavior that was not working for you and made the decision to change it.  It doesn’t matter why or how, it only matters that you did.  Blaming yourself for your wrong doings is only helpful to get you to the point where you are now…in the process of recognizing that change needs to take place in order to heal yourself.  Its time to let the blame go.  It no long serves any positive use in your life.  You are where you are by choice and the more you choose forgiveness and acceptance for where you are now, the more you will heal, and the joy and purpose in your life will grow with you.

The changes that you have made and will continue to make will not only be the greatest gift to you, but also to your son.  You are teaching him that even our heroes and the people we look up to make mistakes, that it’s okay to be human.  But more importantly, you are teaching him that when you recognize you choose behaviors that don’t help you, you dig in and find the strength to change those behaviors into ones that DO work…there is no greater lesson than to teach by example.  It is equally important for us to know what doesn’t work as it does to know what does so we know the difference.  By choosing to change you are teaching him a lesson he wouldn’t learn anywhere else. What a true gift for you both!

From what you have described, you have built a foundation of love and respect with your son, followed by a painful period of transition.  What is most important is that you built that foundation together and the love that you have for him and that he has for you still remains strong, it just needs to be revitalized…and it will be.  It has already begun by you reaching out to him.

Of course there are mixed emotions between the two of you and you can speculate how he feels, but the bottom line is that people innately want to love and be loved and you both have that desire.  He wants his father just as much as you want your son.  If you both have the same goal, the obstacles between you will dissipate as your hearts reunite.  Does this mean he won’t be hurt and angry still? Absolutely not.  He needs to work through his own confusion, distrust and insecurity, but the more you prove to both of you that you are in this for the long haul, his feelings will slowly, but steadily change.

You mentioned that being honest is the best thing and that is true. It will be good to speak from the heart as much as you can, but that does not mean you have to use words to do this.  Say what you feel you have to say, but only that.  Your presence, the hug you give him, the look on your face, will be communication enough without the need to fill the space with words.  When you speak from your heart, you will speak your truth and he will know that you mean it, in spite of any lingering discomfort he feels.

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Q&A My Perspective: Are You “Over Parenting” Your Child?

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Q&A My Perspective: Are You “Over Parenting” Your Child?

QUESTION

I am a single mom of a 4 1/2 yr old boy who is handsome, insanely smart, small for his age and wears glasses. I also am guilty of overprotecting or overparenting, whatever they call it these days.  Yesterday I took him to a kids museum and he was playing with some cars and then he came over to me with this face…almost crying. When I asked what was wrong he said “that kid called me Lucy”. Now I have no idea what was said…the kid was probably talking to his sister Lucy for all I know but it stood out to me because my son always thinks everything is about him. I can be talking to someone about anything and he hears and thinks it has something to do with him. I know kids his age are still learning that they are not the center of the universe but I feel like this could potentially be a serious problem if his feelings are going to get hurt every time someone doesn’t react the way he believes they should or if he is going to take everything so personal.  I do not have any friends with children his age so really his only socialization is at preschool but he is there like 45 hours a week so I would think that would help, but it seems he has a very hard time and backs away from more out-going children. He wants to be the boss but is intimated very easily. Any thoughts on how I can help? He is going to be starting Kindergarten in August and I really want school to be a good experience for him.

MY PERSPECTIVE

Just a heads up, I’m going to start generalizing here, so bear with me.  He is an only child, which means he doesn’t have to share the spotlight when it comes to your attention or relating to other children in the home.  And if he’s not regularly socializing with friends his age in casual environments, his primary interactions with other children are in a controlled environment (preschool) where rules are clearly established.  Rules and structure are great for kids because they keep things safe and orderly, but they often sterilize social interactions where most kids learn the ebb and flow of communication.

I always think of the bus as the best means of social education for kids.  Many parents don’t want their kids on the bus because of the lack of control, the unruliness of kids and the influences they are exposed to.  In fact, most of my kids’ “best” negative lessons come from their bus rides and I am so thankful for that. There’s no other way to set up the environment where kids have been theoretically on their best behavior all day and then unravel when they don’t have to hold it together anymore on the bus.  They are unleashed animals and express themselves in ways they may not get to anywhere else.  And because they are unmanaged by the bus driver who is trying to focus on safely getting them back into our arms, they have the freedom to express themselves without fear of adult repercussion which leads to them handling it completely on their own.

Of course the only reason why I like this is because my kids sing like canaries when calling out other kids (and eachother’s) negative behavior on the bus. It then gives me the opportunity to talk to them about how they handled it, other ways to think of it and what they will do if the same behavior presents itself again.

I am not suggesting you throw your kid on a bus and let him figure it out, but I am suggesting that you help create more opportunities for him to be exposed to free play without social structure and continuous monitoring and then talk about it with him afterwards.  The more he experiences these interactions on his own and handles it on his own, the more likely his confidence will build on how communication works and how he feels about it.  We are there to wipe their tears when they cry, show them the alternative and give them super huge hugs when they figure it out.  The more they experience, the more opportunity they have to practice and the greater the possibility of them figuring it out in positive and rewarding ways.

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Q&A My Perspective: How much control should we give our kids?

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Q&A My Perspective: How much control should we give our kids?

QUESTION

 

I have 2 boys, ages 9 and 6. The youngest one is who I am asking about. He
is incredibly head strong and difficult to get to do things that he
doesn’t want to do. His brother is quite the opposite. I have found that
letting him have more control helps, but how much is too much? Do I let
him choose when to go to bed? Where is that magical line between letting
him have some control and mass chaos? He is also very temperamental so it
is easy to enter into a battle with him!

 

 

MY PERSPECTIVE

As I was venting over the frustration of one of my head strong children to my friend one day, she said “They say that the traits that irritate you while they are young are the traits that will best serve them in adult life.”  I love a good dose of optimism, but when my kid is annoying me, I am not thinking about how it benefits them…at all.

However, it’s true.  Most of us want our kids to think for themselves, to speak for themselves, and to make well thought out decisions based on how they feel. We give them responsibility so they learn how to be confident, independent thinkers, who can survive without us, but we also must teach them limits and boundaries so they know where they stand.

Teaching those boundaries is just as critical as letting them choose their successes and mistakes.  We have seemed to quickly turn into a society that has forgotten that one of the most valuable lessons we can teach our kids is to respect authority and the limits that go with respecting that authority.  In an effort to have law abiding citizens, our kids need to learn that rules are meant to protect us and serve us, not be flexible to our whims and desires.  In our homes, we, the parents are the authority and our limits are non negotiable, they are the law.

Bedtime is a law created to benefit their health.  The human body needs a certain amount of hours of sleep to function at its optimum level.  Our job as parents is to keep our kids healthy, so a bed time is chosen to allow them the opportunity to sleep for as long as their bodies need.  We can not force them to sleep, but we can give them a bedtime which is consistent and non negotiable ensuring their health and wellbeing. (and ours- post bedtime is ME time in our house and my ME time is equally important for their health and wellbeing) If they choose not to sleep, they will live with the consequences of lack of sleep.  And yes, that sucks for us too, but they figure it out. When they’re tired, they’ll sleep.  I have one of those and it can be torture. The only thing that helps is my consistency and non negotiable rules…and a ridiculous amount of patience.

Since so much of parenting is trial and error, the answer of how much control do we let them have versus mass chaos will come with experience.  For example, if you let your child dictate how and when they do their homework, but you learn that they aren’t getting it done “their way,” you establish rules and guidelines of how and when homework must be done.  For example, homework is done before TV or computer use, etc. If it’s not done within your rules, then relative consequences go into effect and remain consistent until the behavior is changed.

As for being temperamental, it goes with the personality territory of the strong willed child.  It’s so important for kids to learn how to express how they are feeling, but its also important for them to learn how to manage those feelings appropriately.  When kids express their anger aggressively, we need to teach them it is okay to be angry and frustrated, but it is not okay to express their anger in negative and aggressive ways.  And when they do, relative consequences apply.

So the magical line is where ever we draw it.  We establish rules and laws for a reason and most of them are designed to support and protect them.  Until they are officially their own protector, those rules and laws are ones they are required to live by while we care for them. We allow them flexibility to grow within our laws and rules, not outside of them.

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Q&A My Perspective: Why are Kids So Mean?

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Q&A My Perspective: Why are Kids So Mean?

QUESTION

How can kids be so mean at such a young age, teasing kids about clothes and shoes. My friend told me that her 7 year old is so cautious about what he wears to school because he doesn’t want to be teased in 2nd grade!

MY PERSPECTIVE

I was once at a local playground after school when my daughter was 5 and had just started kindergarten.  A little girl, either 6 or 7, went up to my daughter and said “Nice Sketchers (brand of shoe), wanna play?” My daughter had no idea what she was talking about until she told her it was her shoes.  Another little girl standing by them asked if she liked her shoes and the girl replied, “They’re not Sketchers.” And the Sketcher loving girl ran off with my with daughter to play on the swings leaving the other girl in the dust.  That conversation has been burned in my mind for the past 4 years. Upsetting, I know.  (And no, I did not intervene. I chose to let the scene play itself out and discussed my concerns with my daughter on the way home because I knew she wouldn’t have had the slightest idea what happened)

Anytime a person is putting down another, it is a way of positioning themselves for perceived power.

We can analyze why the girl who likes Sketchers feels the expensive shoe is a symbol of power. She may view monetary value of the product as a superior trait. She may believe that the more money someone has, the more power they have. This is not an uncommon view and certainly one that is learned by watching and listening to others, not uniquely manifested.

Or more simply for a child her age, she could feel the style is more to her liking and therefore she has something in common with the other person with similar taste.  She is drawn to like minded people so she feels like she belongs and would prefer to be around someone who views things/style as she does.  This is natural for everyone. We are typically drawn to others with similar interests and values. The more in common we feel we are to someone, the more we feel we are on an equal playing field of power.

Or we can decide she is a mean spirited little girl and its much easier to pass judgment on her and her parents for raising such an unpleasant little girl and feel good that our children would never say such things…that we are aware of.  Feel the power of looking down on someone else?

What’s wonderful about children is that they are ever evolving and learning.  They learn from everything and everyone around them. They will be exposed to unkindness and they will be unkind themselves as they are learning how to find their place in this world and experience which behaviors get them what they want.

The best thing we can do for our children is to be aware of what we are teaching them.  How do you speak about others in front of them? How do you compare yourself to others? What are they learning from you by your words and actions? We may preach equality, but do we teach equality with our actions?

 

Parenting is just as much about personal reflection as it is noticing what’s around us, since what we teach them is a mirror of how we view the world and our place in it.

I am mindful about how I talk about others in front of my kids, but there are times when my own judgments seep through (or pour through) and they are absorbing every bit of my ego infused rant. Our humanness is what gets in the way of our perfection, which creates a wonderful opportunity to point out our mistakes and how we learn from them.

The reality is, the more comfortable our children are with themselves and the more secure they feel, the more comfortable they will be with their perceived position and sense of power.  The key is to help them understand that being different doesn’t mean less than.

 

Our children will experience hurt by being judged by others. It’s inevitable.  We can’t protect them from others judgment, but we can teach them how to view themselves in a way that is less judged and have faith that will hold on to it as they experience it for themselves.

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Q&A My Perspective: When You Don’t Agree With Your Child’s Teacher and Their Practices

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Q&A My Perspective: When You Don’t Agree With Your Child’s Teacher and Their Practices

QUESTION

How do you support your child’s teacher when you don’t agree with their behavior management practices?

MY PERSPECTIVE

When we pass off our children to complete strangers in the beginning of the school year with the expectation that they will adhere to our parenting beliefs and practices in addition to educating our children in brilliantly entertaining ways that will keep them engaged for 35 hours a week, we set ourselves up for disappointment.  That’s why I personally keep my expectations very low so I can be pleasantly surprised when all is going well. (transparent sarcasm is beautiful, isn’t it?)

Here’s the reality. We come into contact with people every day whose practices do not align with our own.  Often times, some our friends and family do not parent their own children the way that we do or want to. We then have options on how we want to handle it.  We can remove ourselves from their lives because we don’t agree with them and are uncomfortable with their practices. Or we can continue to spend time with them, and then talk behind their backs about how we would NEVER parent the way they do. Or we can continue to spend time with them, accept our differences and stay firm in our beliefs and model what practices work for us.

When it comes to our children’s teachers, our options are virtually the same.  We can ask to have them removed from the class and try someone new. We can have them continue in the class and build up our resentment towards the teacher and their perceived inferior practices and potentially have our judgment seep into our child’s head who in turn rejects the teacher’s practices as well and becomes non responsive or disruptive. Or we can keep them in the class so they learn how to adapt to different methods of practice, while firmly modeling what we feel works best at home.

If you opt to keep them in the class and choose not to build up resentment, it will be imperative to communicate your concerns with the teacher and explain how you manage behavior at home and why it works for you.  You are then offering the support you mentioned and ideally educating them on alternatives that they may not have thought of or tried.

If they choose not to accept your suggestions, then you and your child are learning an excellent (and hard) lesson in adaptation and acceptance.  And that’s a good thing because the more opportunities we learn to adapt and accept what is happening beyond our control, the easier it becomes for the inevitable next time.

On a personal note, I learned an invaluable lesson as a parent one year when my daughter’s teacher had a style that was quite the opposite of my own.  She did not engage with me the way I had hoped and I was unimpressed with her demeanor.  At the end of the year, my daughter cried on the last day of school because she loved her teacher so much and didn’t want to move on to anyone else.  I then learned that just because the teacher’s style was not for me, didn’t mean it wasn’t good for my daughter.  Her style worked just fine in engaging my child and promoting a love of learning, which is exactly what I wanted for her.  She met my expectations without being what I wanted her to be.

Either that, or I’m not always the best judge of what my child needs.  Nah…;)

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Q&A My Perspective: How Old is too Old to Believe in Santa Claus?

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Q&A My Perspective: How Old is too Old to Believe in Santa Claus?

QUESTION:

How old is too old to believe in Santa? (Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Etc.) Do we tell them the truth before they hear it from other kids? My daughter is in 5th grade and still believes.

MY PERSPECTIVE:

Honestly, I still believe in Santa. In my mind, Santa is truly the Spirit of Fun and Giving at Christmastime.  In fact, once I had children, Christmas seemed even more exciting to me when they began to understand and believe in the story of Santa Claus. I mean the belief that this person generously gives to others expecting nothing in return except the hope that we will choose good behaviors…brilliant!

I want my children to believe in the Spirit of Giving and Fun, so is there ever a specific time to call it a belief and not an actual living, breathing person? I don’t think so.

I believe that is a personal decision for all parents that is determined by when it feels right for them and their situation. The reality is they will find out, at some point, so how do you want to structure your response for when they do, whether you are the one telling them or not?

Now is the time to determine what you want them to walk away understanding, including an explanation of why the “secret” of Santa’s (or the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc) non physical identity is kept in the spirit of fun…just like planning a surprise party.  The intent of the secret is meant to keep things interesting and exciting, not as a dishonesty where someone can get hurt.

Until then, enjoy living in the moments of their wonder and fun and embrace the truth that they won’t be little forever…why not hold on for as long as we can and enjoy the cookies and milk while they last?

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