Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A response to "Six Things Every Parent Needs to Stop Doing Right Now"

A friend of mine shared this article on facebook (opens in a new window) and it garnered a fair bit of controversy.  David and I read it and had some discussion on it and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.  Feel free to disagree, just do so respectfully if you choose to comment.

I'm just starting on my parenting journey and I know I have a lot to learn.  I don't agree with everything the author says, but she does make some valid points.

Exercising with your child in fun ways (riding bikes, playing tag, going to the park, etc) will help keep you both healthy and exercising won't have a negative connotation for your child.  Complaining about having to go the gym will set your child up to see exercise as a negative thing and they will be less likely to want to be active as they grow older.  Model an active lifestyle and your children are more likely to develop a healthy lifestyle as well. Monkey see, monkey do.

As far as screen time, the author doesn't say that all screen time is bad, just that relying on it all the time (using the computer or TV as a babysitter) is not healthy. Sitting with your child, looking stuff up on the internet, learning together - there's nothing wrong with that.  It's a good thing, it teaches the child to use the tools that we have at our disposal and it teaches them to work with someone else to find answers to questions. The author even says that some screen time is okay.  What I think she is getting at is that nothing but screen time all day is a bad thing.  I know it's something I'm going to have to work on myself - I spend a lot of time at the screen and that's not good for me and it's not a good example for Bean.

Having healthy snacks available (I'm not sure chocolate dipped strawberries fall into that category though) sets a child up for healthy eating habits both as a child and later an adult. However it's up to you as the parent what your policy on snacking is, whether the child is free to grab a snack whenever they are hungry or if they have to ask permission for grabbing a snack.  Having healthy snacks available that they can get themselves (with or without permission, depending on your personal rules for your household) helps teach healthy eating and gives them some choice as to what they choose - carrot sticks or apple pieces or an orange or whatever you happen to have available for them.

As for ordering, directing, and correcting vs asking for cooperation, each have their place.  There are some things that are non-negotiable (wearing a seat belt in the car and being polite for example) in which ordering or directing is completely appropriate.  There are other things that are negotiable in which giving the child a choice avoids and unnecessary power struggle (do you want to where your blue shirt or your red shirt?  Do you want to make your bed first or pick up your toys first?).  The author doesn't say never to give directions to your child and does say that you are the parent and they are the child. I think what the author is saying is to choose your battles wisely.  But in the end, you know your child best and know what they will respond to best.

Skipping breakfast, but expecting them to eat breakfast just doesn't set a good example.  If I were a child, my response to that would be "why do I have to have breakfast if you don't?" it's back to the monkey see, monkey do and modeling the behavior that you want to see in them.

The author's position on helping children transition from vacation back to school has some validity, but every child's needs are different.  Some children will make the transition seamlessly, others will need help and emotional support.  I do however agree wholeheartedly with helping children develop language to express their emotions.  It's part of helping them to grow into emotionally intelligent adults.

That was a super long comment, but it's what I think.  I also think the author intentionally wrote her key points to stir up controversy.  After all, it's controversy that sells papers (and most people only read the headings anyhow).  As I said at the beginning of my novel of a comment, I'm just starting my parenting journey and I have a lot to learn.  I may be completely off-base with my thoughts and ideas and I'm certainly not trying to tell anyone how to raise their children.  I'm just sharing my opinions and views.

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