Living With Children
By John Rosemond
Through my Web site, a parent recently asked if children who don't want to continue piano lessons should be forced to stay the course regardless. I answered that I don't approve, generally, of forcing children into activities they don't want to be in. Making a child continue in an activity he doesn't enjoy makes it less likely he will ever again express interest in anything for fear of being forced to continue if he discovers he doesn't like it. Where optional activities are concerned, childhood should be a time of fairly free-form experimentation.
Another parent wrote back: "I understand your position on not forcing piano practice and that kids should be free to figure out what hobbies they have. But I'm in the same boat-we bought a piano and we're paying for lessons. You're saying we shouldn't force practice? My parents let me quit music and I regret it to this day."
My response: "If you're saying your parents made a mistake letting you quit music lessons, I disagree. You made the mistake. Your parents allowed you the freedom to do so and I applaud them for it. That is the greatest freedom of all, one that all too many of today's kids are being denied by well-intentioned but short-sighted parents. I will submit that the outcome to you of being forced to take lessons when you didn't want to would not have been good. Today, you wish you'd continued your musical learning. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
On the other hand, if a child asks parents to invest in expensive musical equipment (a piano, for example), and has promised in return to take lessons for a specific period of time, then her feet should be held to the fire of the agreement. That's about obligations, however, not music.
Q: I don't require our 4-year-old to take a nap, but I do make her stay in her room for an hour after lunch. The problem is that while she's in there, she dismantles her room. She takes the sheets off the bed, empty out her closet, pulls things out of her drawers, and so on. Today, when I found her sitting in the middle of this clutter, playing, I told her she had to stay in there until suppertime and locked the door. She screamed bloody murder the entire afternoon, frequently begging her older brother to let her out. I thought the neighbors might call the police. Was this overkill? If so, how should I respond when she tears her room apart?
A: I don't think it's overkill for you to tell your daughter that if she tears her room apart during naptime, she has to stay in there until she has put back together again. A 4-year-old is capable of doing that-fairly well, at least, and fairly well is all that I'd require.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his Web site at www.rosemond.com
Read 0 Comments... >>
By Laura Gray
The moment offers you a chance to explain the roles each of us play in a family. And no person is less “important” than another; we all have value. It’s also a lesson learned by the lovable characters of Disney’s Toy Story 3, available this month on DVD and Blu-ray. Enjoy this soon-to-be-a-classic film with your family and talk about its commentary on family and friendship with our conversation starters. Then create Thumbuddies Onboard with our Play Together activity.
Toy Story 3 follows Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the other toys as they consider their fate, now that their owner, Andy, is going away to college. Will he toss them aside, pack them away in the attic or send them along to some other child? Woody is confident that Andy loves his dear toys but his friends are not so sure. When Andy’s mom accidentally throws the toys away, they assume the worst.
The toys escape the trash heap and climb into a box destined for a nearby daycare center. At the daycare, they are welcomed by Lotso, a teddy bear with an ulterior motive. Andy’s toys are excited to be played with by new children, but Lotso assigns them to the toddler room. The young children abuse the toys, as might be expected, but the toys beg Lotso to move them to another room. He refuses and they soon learn that he is a cruel tyrant who rules the daycare with terror and intimidation.
Woody, who was left behind when Andy tossed him into his box of college-bound stuff, sets out to rescue his friends from the daycare. As they flee, Lotso and his henchmen face off with the toys at a dumpster. Woody convinces the henchmen that Lotso is evil and they throw him into the dumpster. Lotso pulls Woody in with him and the toys jump in to save their friend. A garbage truck then empties the dumpster and unloads its contents into an incinerator.
At the last moment, the alien toys use a claw crane to pluck their friends from the incinerator. They make their way home to Andy, who decides to give his toys to a little girl named Bonnie. He tenderly introduces each beloved toy to her and they play together one last time. The toys come to understand that they will always hold a special place in Andy’s heart.
Initially, Andy decides to save his old toys in the attic. What did the toys hope would happen to them after Andy leaves home? How did they end up in the trash?
PLAY TOGETHER: THUMBUDDIES ONBOARD
Let the world know what makes your family special!
Read 0 Comments... >>
More than 10 nationally recognized children’s book authors and illustrators were on hand for the 7th Annual Savannah Children’s Book Festival on Nov. 13. Sponsored by Live Oak Public Libraries and the City of Savannah, this Savannah tradition “celebrates the joy of reading, the power of the written word and the magic of storytelling,” according to organizers. In this issue’s Book Review, we highlight books by some of the festival’s authors and illustrators.
• ANNA DEWDNEY
About the Book: Merry Christmas from the Peach State! Jacob's there visiting his cousin Ava, and together they'll have a Southern-style holiday hiking the Appalachian Trail, wandering through the Gold Museum and touring the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.
Visit Dulemba’s website, www.dulemba.com, for free puzzles, coloring pages, recipes and more from her newest book.
About the Books: I Told You I Can Play! chronicles how young Jordan followed his heart and dreams to show others that he could do anything he put his mind to. Last summer, Jordan released his second children’s book, Overcoming the Fear of the Baseball. This book details a childhood experience when Jordan was hit in the face with a fastball. Instead of calling it quits, he returned to the baseball field where he went on to play 15 years of Major League Baseball.
• MARJORY HEATH WENTWORTH
About the Book: Shackles, which is illustrated by Leslie Darwin Pratt-Thomas, is based on a true story. The book describes what happens when a group of young boys search for buried treasure in their backyard on Sullivan's Island, S.C., and dig up a bit of history – a set of shackles used centuries ago on slaves who were held on the island. Neighbor and friend Mr. Green is summoned and he tries to explain the painful hidden history of Sullivan’s Island. One out of every three African Americans had ancestors who were brought to Sullivan’s Island and held or perished in the slave trade. This important story reminds us of a piece of American history that is too often forgotten or overlooked.
Read 0 Comments... >>
By John Rosemond
NAEYC certifies preschool education programs, and their standards, as one would expect, reflect their philosophy. They will not give a program their seal of approval if it punishes children who do bad things. Why? Because children do not do bad things.
According to one of NAEYC’s publications, they simply “make mistakes in their behavior.” In other words, when a child does the wrong thing, it is not intentional. Really? I was a child once. When caught, I was rather clever when it came to appearing that “I didn’t mean it.” Adults who believed me did me no favors.
A North Carolina preschool teacher recently told me their director informed her and her colleagues that time-out is being phased from the classroom because it is a form of “shaming.” Instead, they are to re-direct the misguided child to a more positive activity. A week after being so informed, said teacher reprimanded a toddler who was beating on another child. No punishment, just a reprimand. The director scolded her for being too negative. I feel certain the director did not appreciate the irony.
Another teacher in the program came up with the idea that children who followed classroom rules would get a prize at the end of the day. A child became upset that she didn’t get the prize. The director told the teacher to apologize to the child for singling her out and to give her the prize. This child has thus been moved one step further toward incurable narcissism. This is the stuff of trying to become certified by NAEYC.
One of NAEYC’s papers (http://www.naeyc.org/files/tyc/file/Gartrell%2001.pdf) says that “punishments such as time-outs confuse young children because they cannot easily understand the sequence of behaviors during and after a conflict nor what removal to a chair has to do with them.” That sentence confuses me, so I’m fairly certain it’s an example of pure, distilled psychobabble. The same paper goes on to assert that time-outs cause children to feel ineffectual, prevent them from developing alternative strategies, lower their self-worth, and are bewildering because young children have difficulty figuring out cause-effect relationships.
Psychobabble is any assertion that cannot be verified by the scientific method. All of the preceding fits that definition.
Concerning shame, it is dysfunctional when it is either excessive or absent. But when a child misbehaves, he should feel ashamed. Young children are incapable of feeling shame on their own; therefore, they need responsible agents (i.e. adults) to help them feel it. This process is essential to proper socialization; to an appreciation of the effect one’s behavior has on others.
Concerning children, I know that back in the parenting dark ages, when children knew they were going to be punished for misbehaving, they were far more likely to behave. That is why a teacher in the 1950s had no problem teaching 50 or more first-graders without an aide (of the 1950s first grade class sizes I’ve come across, 95 is the record so far, and the woman who taught that leviathan remembered no significant discipline problems).
Today’s teachers are dealing with classroom behavior problems that would have astounded our great-grandparents. NAEYC ought to be ashamed for contributing to this problem…but they won’t be. They don’t believe in shame.
Read 0 Comments... >>
By Laura Gray
It seems bullying dominated our national news this year. Sadly, most cases never made the front page until another child took his or her life. Savannah students are just as susceptible to this form of homegrown terrorism, but school administrators and leaders are making major strides in combating bullying of all kinds.
You probably know someone whose child has dealt with bullying. Maybe your own child has been bullied. Or, perhaps, you have bad childhood memories of your own experiences with bullies. What’s important is to be vigilant is watching out for the warning signs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has come up with a list of potential signs that your child is being bullied:
• Comes home with torn, damaged or missing pieces of clothing, books or other belongings.
• Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time.
• Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs).
• Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school.
• Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school.
• Appears sad, moody, teary or depressed when he or she comes home.
• Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments.
• Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams.
• Experiences a loss of appetite.
• Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem.
To find out what local experts are doing to stop bullying in our schools, read my story on page 3. The sidebar, “What to Do If Your Child is Bullied,” gives you practical, concrete steps to take.
The experts agree that the key to curbing bullying is to stop the behavior early, when kids are still in elementary or middle school. To begin a dialogue with your child, try using one of these books:
• Gator Gumbo by Candace Fleming & Sally Anne Lambert
• Shrinking Violet by Cari Best & Giselle Potter
Read 0 Comments... >>