Monday, February 27, 2012

Parent's Tool Kit

Last week I started a series about discipline techniques. I like to think of these techniques as tools that can be used in different situations to fix or help repair different problems. I think every parent should have a Parenting Tool Kit filled with tools that help them parent well. You may not use every tool I offer, but I hope some of these tips may be useful to you.

Lend A Hand – Young children can be easily overwhelmed, frustrated or upset by tasks that seem easy to adults, such as getting dressed, tying shoes, or cleaning up toys. Ask them if they need help, especially if they seem overly stressed, tired, sick, hungry or have had a bad day. Don’t do it for
them though; do it together because it will help them learn the value of working together.

Some children will refuse your help even if they are obviously getting very frustrated. This type of child really wants to accomplish something and they feel that receiving help is like being defeated. In this case you might say, "You're doing a really good job and I know it's not easy, so if you need help it's okay, I'm here for you." Sometimes that verbal encouragement will allow them to relax and receive help, or it could also give them the encouragement to push on through and get it done. It's all good.

It can be a little annoying for a parent sometimes, to take the time to work together with a young child on a task that the parent could do better and faster alone. As parents we can often be so focused on our schedules and priorities that we forget this very important part of being a parent, that is helping our children learn how to do things little by little as they grow. It does take some patience, planning, and even a bit of thought.

I remember trying to teach my kids how to put their toys away when they were 2 and 4 years old. My son said, "Why do we have to put everything away? We like to leave it out because we can see it so we know where everything is." Now that was quite a logical response for a 4 year old and I didn't quite know what to say to him. We had an organized system of labeled drawers and shelves, but of course they weren't really reading yet. All the toys were in the playroom so when I suggested that we didn't want people to step on them  my son reminded me that only he and his sister played there.

I was not good at thinking on my feet and I had not expected his legalistic arguments so I shrugged and walked out of the room. I had to think about this and figure out what would motivate my son to clean up. I knew I could yell, demand, and get angry about it, but that would not really help him learn why cleaning up is valuable. So I devised a plan.

While my kids were sleeping I hid some of the toys they had left laying all over the floor. They were little toys that could be easily lost or misplaced, so I strategically misplaced them. The next day my son came running, saying that he couldn't find one of his favorite toys. Then I said, "That is a good reason to put it away in a special place every night, so you will know exactly where it is the next day. That is why we clean up toys." Then I went to the playroom to help him search for it.

If you've enjoyed this post or found it helpful please leave your comments below. Thanks for reading!

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