Tag Archives: child

Blogging? Enjoy the sun…

I didn’t write a lot on this blog lately. First of all, because I realized that I did spend way too much time on the computer. I’m seriously working on my time management and am cutting the time down at the computer for many reasons. Reading and writing on the computer for many hours a day is not healthy. The neck and back suffer and the eyes get pretty tired too.

I really enjoy reading and writing every day, but now that the Summer seems to finally start here in the Netherlands, I really don’t want to spend more than 3 hours a day in front of the screen. I had to remind myself what I did write in an earlier post about screen time for children. And I really need to do the same too. So I set the clock and realized that 3 hours were nothing. I could hardly read all the posts on the blogs I follow and leave a few comments. I usually read two to three newspapers per day (that would be another hour). Not to mention all the emails, the organizing of all the school events (I’m classmum in my children’s classes and parent’s representative for a yeargroup, i.e. for 60 children (and families)) and social contacts of our whole family. And then there are the language lessons I have to prepare and some other articles I have to write. – I really enjoy doing all this, but I didn’t realize how time consuming all this became in the last months.

Therefore I decided to reduce my screen time. I will try to be as productive as possible, but I also need to get out, do sports, spend time with my children.

I’m working from home, so it’s always very tempting to sit at the comupter even when the children are home and play or read. But I shouldn’t. As parents we are role models for our children. Not only for the small ones, but also our teenagers copy our behaviour. Especially the one concerning the use of electronic devices. So, the new rule in our family is: not more than 30 minutes for the children (per day; except homeworks, as they often have to search informations on the internet for this…) and for mum 3 hours for work and max. 1 hour for “fun”.

Today I enjoyed the sun, did some work in the garden, we all went for a bike ride and I had my screen-fun-time already. Therefore I wish you all a relaxed off-screen evening. Tot gauw.

Beach2013

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Questions foster the thinking

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you want to make your child think instead of keeping you doing all of the thinking? Are you tired to always tell your children what to do and how?

I’ve already shared some wisdom from the Love and Logic Expert Dr. Charles Fay in some of my posts. His weekly advice with a great list of useful questions we can ask our children just came in handy to me today.

Questions create thinking, we all know that. When we’re having one of those days telling constantly our children to stop doing something, to listen or to  helping etc. we’re trapped in a decision taking role and end up doing all the thinking.

For example, if we don’t agree with the behaviour of our kids, instead of reprimanding them, asking questions like “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” or “Can you think about a better way to do ….?” really helps lot and “and it keeps the monkey off of our backs” (most of the time).

“Human brain seeks closure. When we use plenty of questions, children’s brains are so busy searching for closure that they have less energy left over for power-struggles.”

It really works. Instead of telling our kids what to do, when and why, we’re much better off by asking them questions. When our children ask us to help them find a solution, we’re often tempted to figure out one for them, but it’s really not a sign of weakness if we reply with “I don’t know. What do you think?”. Doing so, we’re helping them to become confident, because we give them the message that we consider them able to do the thinking (and that we’re not omniscient).

If we have the impression that our children are making poor choices, we sometimes can feel upset and would like to give them a better advice, tell them how to do things better. Instead, a question like “Are you sure that’s the best idea?” is much less judgemental and puts them in the position to redo their thinking. Also a “How do you think that’s going to work out for you?” will give them a hint to think about the consequences.

Some more questions that will capture their attention and take away the tension of a difficult situatoin are: “Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?” (and we have to come up with some really convincing anecdotes!) and “Do you think that’s going to work out well or ________?”.

If they are at a dead end, by asking “What do you think you are going to do?” in a compassionate way will signalize that we confide in them that they’ll find a solution by themselves.

Once our children have figured out a few ways to solve their problem but are still struggling to find the right one, asking “Which one of these is the best solution to your problem?” or, in a very specific context “Do you have enough money to pay for any possible damage?” can be appropriate.

And if you really don’t agree with their solution, a “Is that a wise decision?” would make it clear for them to reconsider their decision.

Please share the experiences you made by asking your children instead of doing the thinking for them.

It would be great to add some more great questions to this list!

Here are some of your additional questions:

Insanityofmotherhood:

One of the questions I ask the boys when they are off track on something they need to do is, “What should you be doing right now?” I say this instead of my usual nagging and it really works.

Like Misirlou suggests:

It’s also important to let your children make mistakes and sometimes fail—then ask, “How could you have done that differently?” or “What can you do differently next time?”

The importance of role plays for children (and us…)

Role play involves imagination, and …

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Albert Einstein

When children do role plays, they naturally become someone or something else. Role play stimulates their imagination and “enhanc(es) their social development, encourag(es) friendship through cooperation, listening and turn taking”. Therefore, role play is a really vital activity for our children.

Our children can learn many skills and attitudes during role play, and learn how to be co-operative (teamwork) and be empathetic with others. They can learn to express all their feelings. They also can learn about other cultures and improve their language and movement skills.

During role plays our children can experience school activities like literacy and numeracy. In the playing shop, our children can “encompass all the aspects of the curriculum”. They can learn about money, about politeness and the right way to ask questions and respond etc. Role play can help our children to make sense of their world.

In her article “Role Play in Early Years Settings“, Julie Meighan points out the importance for preschools to “provide children with the opportunity to develop their imagination” through role plays.

“Imaginative play not only aids intellectual development but also improves children’s social skills and their creativity. In addition it gives children a chance to play out events that they have observed or experienced in real life.” And this means also situations they might have some problems to deal with. In fact, role plays can help to “explore moral issues and problems safely”.

I’m always amused when I see and hear my children having role plays and imitating a grown up, saying the things we use to tell them. By interiorizing our roles they become little adults, and I think that by playing, they get to understand us better.

Also, by getting into the future or the past, the role play permits to visit or re-visit places and moments our children need to handle. They can travel anywhere, in the real world or in a very fictional one, where people have special powers or things just are not like normal…

Role play: with adults and children

What I find very interesting in role plays with my children, i.e. when I or other grown ups are involved in the play, is that we all have the opportunity to understand different points of view simply by acting.

If I play the role of a baby or a child and one of my children plays a parent or a teacher, I relive how it feels to be the “little one”. And sometimes we adults get to know what our children retain from what we teach them, how they feel about the way we talk to them. During these role plays, when our children play our part, it’s like we were looking in a mirror. Personally, I find these role plays very helpful as I get to know what bothers my children, what they are afraid of or what they are particularly proud of. They have the opportunity to express their fears and needs without being judged.

Role play gives us the unique chance to meet our children in an imaginary world.

Have you played a role play with your children lately? What are your experiences with it?

Roleplay

Here’s an interesting study about the “Role of pretend play in Children’s Cognitive Development” by Doris Bergen.

Why not helping helps our children

Do you ever help your toddlers to climb on a frame, sit on a slide etc. or do you ever help your child to do homework? Well, try not to do that… Sometimes, not helping our children helps them more than we can imagine.

I remember the first time I went to a ludoteca (a small indoor playground, for toddlers) in Florence with my son. He was about 10 months old and crawled around the place, trying to climb on a high mattress. I was going to stand up from my cosy sofa to reach him on time to catch his (eventual) fall, when one of the ladies there told me something that changed my life as mum: „Don’t help him climb on there, he’ll get there on his own. And if your child can climb on it, he will also know how to get down again. He will not fall down, unless someone distracts him.“

Bildschirmfoto 2013-02-01 um 11.20.33

©expatsincebirth

Ever since, I only took care that he wasn’t disturbed and just watched him during his climbing adventures. He did reach the top of this mattress, as he reached many more goals after that. I didn’t want him to learn to be on top of a ladder, I wanted him to learn how to climb it.

Did he ever fall? Oh yes, he did. He bumped his head, got bruises etc. but there was always someone who gave him a hug, a plaster or a coldpack. And the most important thing: he did stand up again.

The only help I gave my children was to observe them from a safe distance, in order to help when they failed in their attempts. Of course they got frustrated when they didn’t reach something they were simply too small to, but they learned that this is not the end of the world.

I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings“ : in her very inspiring article „Please don’t help my kids“, Kate Bassford Baker explains, why she doesn’t want other parents to help her children. She writes about the frustration of a mum who wants her children to do their own experiences and to learn to be indipendent, while other parents feel that they have to help her children…

What I would like to point out in this post is that sometimes, not helping is more helpful for our children.

Our children need to learn the consequence of the choices they make

Once our children have gained some experience and know what they are able to do and what is more difficult for them, they will also be able to learn the consequences of their choices. I’m not saying that we have to allow our childern to do freeclimbing or bungeejumping at an early age without any help. No, everything should be teached and learned within a comfort zone. And it should also be in a safe context, where our child can’t get seriously hurt.

Not helping our children all the time, helps them to become more indipendend, more confident and even more balanced. Those who know me and who have read some other of my posts about parenting, know that I am a „Love and Logic“ parent. Foster Cline and Jim Fay did coin the term of „Helicopter parents“, who, like helicopters, hover overhead. They do everything for their children, they overprotect them. Well, a helicopter parent doesn’t help his child to grow confidence and to become indipendent. Jessica Lahey’s article abot „Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail“ gives a very interesting insight into the effect that overprotecting parents have on their children.

Don’t we all strive to have responsible and independent children?

While it’s important to perceive the needs and issues of our children during their first months, parents should know that at a very early stage they already can let them the chance to make their own experiences and solve their own problems.

It starts with letting the babies roll over, then crawl, stand up etc. by themselves. And later, at school, children need to learn to take responsibility and to deal with the natural consequences of their actions.

„And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather help them learn the skills they’ll need to navigate them now, while a misstep means a bumped head or scraped knee that can be healed with a kiss, while the most difficult of hills can be conquered by chanting, “I think I can, I think I can”, and while those 15 whole feet between us still feels, to them, like I’m much too far away.“ (Kate Bassford Baker)

Our children need to fail, to make mistakes. It’s better to teach them how to deal with „little“ problems while they’re young, because the older they get, the bigger the problems become.

What message are we giving a 8 year old if we bring the lunch to school that he forgot to pack in the morning? That there will always be someone who comes to his rescue. Well, a child will not die if he doesn’t eat his lunch for once. And the same applies to homework, PE gear etc. If children learn to own their own problems, they will naturally become more responsible.

So, if we let our children fail on the little day to day things, they will learn to cope with bigger challenges and failures later on in their lives. And they will become more firm in facing their challenges.

Challenges have the power to transform (the children) into

resourceful, competent, and confident adults“.

Please read also this very insightful post from Jaclyn: True Attachment Parenting vs. Helicopter Parenting