When Positive Parenting Doesn’t “Work”

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Last week I wrote a post about struggling to convince my three-year-old son, Bobby, to take a nap while on a camping trip. I thought about how my parents would have handled they situation---by spanking the child refusing to lay down or stay still---and then about the problems with punishing children for age-approripate behavior that they will grow out of in time. I ultimately solved the situation by suggesting that Bobby and I pretend we were hiding from dinosaurs, a game that he engaged in … [Read more...]

Child Development, Jumping Frogs, and Evading Dinosaurs

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We went camping earlier this year. You know, the lovely peaceful sort of camping at an out-of-the way campsite, with hikes, 'smores, and afternoon naps in the tent. Well. Sort of. One afternoon as we all lay down in the tent for a nap, three-year-old Bobby decided he was a frog. He had walked quite a bit on our hike that morning and ought to have been tired out, but kids are nothing if not unpredictable. Six-year-old Sally decided she would take a nap, but Bobby? Nothing doing!Sean and I … [Read more...]

Why I Sometimes “Give In” to My Children

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Growing up, my parents were very firm that "no" meant "no." If we begged or tried to get them to change their minds, we would get in trouble. That was disobedience. More than that, they thought that if they were to "give in" to begging after already saying no, they would be allowing us children to rule them and would lose control of the family. So not only were we not allowed to beg, they also didn't allow themselves to change their minds. That would have been showing weakness.I see this … [Read more...]

Parenting Positively Means Much More than Not Hitting

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Yesterday as Sally climbed into the car, she knocked over a can with flowers in it, something she'd brought home from school, and in the process spilled water on the seat. Sally began to fret about the water, but I didn't have a towel or other rag in the car. Since we were about to head home home, I suggested that she sit on the wet spot, soaking up some of the water with her dress, and that she could change when we get home. Sally responded that the water was in a corner of the seat, so she c … [Read more...]

On Coming When You’re Called and Fear-Based Obedience

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Yesterday I argued that we sometimes hold higher expectations for our children than we do for ourselves. One example I gave was when parents expect their children to jump up and come immediately when called while they themselves feel free to take a moment to finish something when someone else calls them.I grew up with parents who expected obedience to be "immediate, complete, cheerful, and without question." Anything short of this was considered disobedience. Half of my many siblings are … [Read more...]

When We Expect More of Our Children than of Ourselves

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Some months ago Sally left the family iPad in a store. She had been reading interactive storybooks when it ran out of batteries, so she put it on the rack under the cart and subsequently forgot about it. We didn't realize it was missing until we got home. Needless to say, I was not happy. Actually, I was really quite upset. Sean took Sally back to the store to look for it, but they couldn't find it. I'm afraid to say that I was more than a little stern with Sally. I didn't punish her (after al … [Read more...]

Not All Days Are Easy Days

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One day a few weeks ago, Sally completely lost it. I don't even remember what it was about, but she just let loose. She was crying and screaming and yelling---and knocking over furniture. Sally knows that being upset is okay, but that hitting people and throwing things or being otherwise destructive is not. It was the evening and Sean was home and I was in the kitchen working on supper with things on the stove, so when Sally began flipping chairs I called Sean in as backup.Sean picked Sally u … [Read more...]


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