Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spanking is NOT Okay!


There are some parents who defend spanking their children as their "right" to discipline.  But I am not one of them and although I firmly believe in discipline, I know that there are better, and healthier methods of teaching your children right from wrong.  How do I know this for sure?  In my preschool class, I am called upon constantly to correct children's behavior and keep them focused, on task and learning in a positive and nurturing environment.  And I never have felt the need to use my physical power to accomplish any of this.

Now I must admit, in raising my own four children there were a few times I sent a slap their way.  And in my younger days, I know I did use the threat of spanking as a deterrent.  But as the years passed, my husband and I were determined to refrain from using any form of physical punishment as a method of discipline.  "Why?" you ask.  "What is so harmful about a spanking?", "It is the only thing that works!", "My parents spanked me and I turned out alright!"  Let me spell it out simply and clearly for you...

THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO DISCIPLINE YOUR CHILD!  And if you use the other ways effectively, they eliminate the need for spanking altogether.  First, you must admit that most of your spanking is done out of anger.  This is UNACCEPTABLE!  YOU are the adult in the situation and you are not behaving as an adult!  You are controlling a smaller human being through fear.  This results in your own children thinking that is okay to control another person through physical threat and violence.  I know that is not a lesson you want to teach your kid, right?

Discipline should be coming from a place of wisdom.  You want to teach your child that what he/she is doing is not okay and cannot continue.  Also, you want to reinforce to your child that you love and care about them unconditionally, but you are also the authority in their lives until they are grown and no longer in your care.  To do this, you must earn the respect of your child...and spanking doesn't result in your child respecting you...only your power over him/her.

There are many techniques that can be effectively used for discipline issues.  Discipline should be targeted at the age and development of your child and also the severity of the action you wish to stop.  Discipline is especially effective when it teaches something.  Chores can be used as punishment.  So can taking away a favorite activity or toy of your child.  The duration of the punishment also needs to be realistic and something that you will stick to, but difficult enough on your child to be memorable.  This blog contains a earlier post about other discipline strategies which you may find helpful:
But the bottom line is, don't hit your kids.  There are better ways to accomplish your goals.  Don't raise a hand to them.  They are precious little people, who deserve your very best.  If you are having issues with their behavior, educate yourself.  Don't take it out on them.  They love you and don't want to fear you.  You can learn new ways of dealing with them that will benefit your entire family.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Beauty of Preschool!

Today at preschool, I could see brain's growing!  It is such a privilege to circulate amongst the littlest of workers; their tiny hands working on art projects, their little eyes looking up at the book we are sharing, their voices eagerly calling out answers and observations.  Learning to raise a hand, learning to walk down the hall quietly, learning who likes to play pirate ship on the playground.

It never ceases to amaze me how each child is so completely, 100% unique just like the flowers in a garden.  Even after years of teaching, it still surprises me.  And the gifts are there to be discovered.  This one is quiet and reserved and yet knows all of his numerals, this one can tie, this one can write her name, this one is brave and boisterous, but doesn't like glue on his hands.  They are each such a wonderful mosaic of loveliness.  Each is learning and growing at his/her own pace.  There is no need to compete and compare.  Each is right where he/she needs to be and each will forge ahead through the year, learning and growing with out even knowing what is happening.

I am so honored to be a preschool teacher.  Thank you for sending them to preschool for a few hours each weekday, so we can learn and grow and share and care for each other.  We are laying the foundations for successful years ahead.  We are developing positive self concepts, teaching life long lessons about working with each other, listening and communicating our ideas, sticking with tasks until they are finished, and caring about our classmates.  We are a learning community that is built on having fun.

Parents of young children, enroll your children in preschool so that they won't miss out on the joy and the excitement of learning and playing!  You will be giving them a gift of a lifetime.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Understanding Things Not Seen...

A precious young family sat in front of us at mass on Sunday.  The three young children were seated between their parents and just as the service began the fun started.  The youngest brother, who was about four, started a calculated attack on the oldest brother.  He subtly kicked him, pinched his hand, elbowed his ribs, and so on and so on.  The little one was such a quick witted child that as soon as either parent would glance down at them, he would throw up his hand a point to the eldest brother and put a sad look on his face.  And the older brother would get a strong word or shake from his mother or father.

By the end of mass, I felt so sad for the oldest boy.  He took this behavior for much longer than I thought humanly possible...and if he retaliated in any way, he was again reprimanded.  Please understand that I am NOT judging the parents.  Firstly, cheers to them for wrangling three youngsters to mass!  The value of this cannot be overstated.  I am merely writing this post in an effort to ask parents to question themselves about what patterns of behavior you might be missing.  How does one investigate this type of thing?  I would recommend having chats with each of your children, one on one to discuss how they feel about the family and allow them to voice any issues they may be having with one another.  This is healthy on so many levels.  Teaching your children to talk about feelings and open up to you builds the foundation for a solid and positive family life.

So be aware parents.  And make the effort to connect with each and every one of your children.  You will never regret it!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Patience is a Parenting Virtue

I am not a baker.  Ask my kids and they will tell you I make a mean salad.  And I can whip up a decent dinner.  In fact, surprisingly, my cooking is something my kids think I am pretty good at.  But they would be the first to tell you that when it comes to baking...well that's another story.  My cakes usually fall, I can't make a pie crust, and my go to cookie recipe only uses two steps, break and bake.  I think the reason for my short coming in the baking area is that I am not known to have a lot of patience for it.  I hate recipes that include too many ingredients or feature too many steps. 

But when it comes to children, I have noticed that my patience has had to grow over time.  I have gotten somewhat better at holding my tongue.  And with my cute little preschoolers, I can demonstrate boat loads of patience.  It seems ironic that now my own children are far beyond the preschool stage, and so missed out on this personal growth that would have benefited them.

Good parenting relies on patience, both with your children and your self.  Children go through so many transitions and obstacles, and taking a deep breath and not overreacting should be the goal.  Sometimes it is unachievable, but it should be the ultimate goal.  Being a thoughtful, patient and supportive parent is modeling the type of behavior that you want from your children. 

Also, it must be said that in order to be this thoughtful, patient and supportive parent, you must not only be concentrating on your children, but meeting your own personal needs.  Parents who gives every waking moment to their children are going to end up being burned out and resentful (think martyr) or at the minimum, lacking a well rounded, balanced life.  Neither of which is a good example for your children.

So be kind to yourself, and your children.  Be patient with yourself, and your children.  And make time in your life to participate in activities that leave you feeling happy and refreshed.  That will benefit you and your family now and in the days, months and years to come.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life Lessons from TBDE (The best dog ever!)

Our family lost a friend yesterday.  And the grieving is continuing.  Who was our friend? She was truly TBDE (The Best Dog Ever).  She was my first dog, and at 38 years old, I wasn't sure I had the capacity to love any dog.  But at the time, the begging of my four children combined with the sentimental stories of my husband's childhood dog had gotten the best of me.

With the kids in tow, I headed out to visit a shelter that had reached out to me about a candidate that might fill our needs.  The kids had been briefed that this did not GUARANTEE we were coming home with a dog, and sure enough, when we arrived we discovered that the dog we had come to meet was already spoken for.  Disappointment was shared all around, but we decided to just look at the other dogs in the cages in the back room.  I was not expecting to be interested in any one of these dogs, who had already been "screened and not deemed appropriate for our needs".  As we walked through the aisles, my anxiety level was high...because I was not a true dog person.  The barking and sadness was quite overwhelming to me, and frankly, I wanted to finish our look/see with my kids and head home.  But there near the end of the chaotic noisy aisle, sat a golden dog.  She sat so quietly, with her deep, puddles of brown staring earnestly into my heart.  It felt like slow motion as I reached my hand towards her and she quietly and gracefully raised her face and gently licked my hand, as if to say, "I choose you".

When my brain took back my thoughts from my hijacked heart, I realized that she was a bedraggled looking creature; ribs visible, scar over her right eye, nothing really attractive about her but those earnestly loving eyes and soft pink tongue.  We took it to the next step, allowed her to interact with the children and then called my husband at work.  "We have found our dog!" I exclaimed.  "You need to drive out here and meet her before the shelter will allow the adoption."  My husband made the 30 mile drive from his office and had one question "Are you sure THIS is the dog you want?" he asked.  He was skeptical given her somewhat forlorn look, but he could feel that in my heart the decision had already been made.  So against his better judgement, even against what most rational people would decide...he acquiesced and it was decided that she would be our dog.

And what a dog she was.  With our family's love and attention, she blossomed.  Her golden coat grew in thick and soft.  Her body filled out and became strong and healthy. She would run like the breeze, prance delicately through the snow, and curl up gently by a fire.  She was quiet, and never relied upon her bark to communicate.  Her presence was enough.  She was a loving, gentle soul who always preferred children to adults and had a grace and elegance about her that I found irresistible.  She of course had her moments, like when she climbed on the kitchen table one day to eat the kid's sandwiches, or squeezed through the slats of the lake house deck to join us down on the beach, or found a porcupine and took quills to the chin on a late night romp with my sister's dog and her friend, Casey.

But she taught me many lessons.  I never knew what it was like to love a dog.  I never knew what it felt like to have a four legged friend who was always happy to see you.  Her calmness calmed me.  Her gentleness and loving nature was a gift to our whole family.  When someone was having a bad day they could always find some peace and comfort by petting her and just being near her.

Yesterday, we lost TBDE.  She lived a long life.  Our vet said that she was his oldest patient.  And even in the end, she was helping us realize it was time to say goodbye.  Today there is an absence.  No paws following me into the kitchen, no brown puddle eyes to greet me, no golden soft fur to stroke but a head full of memories about the dog who changed our lives for good.