Prime -Time Parenting Part 6

HOW TO TUCK LOVE INTO EVERY POCKET OF TIME

When you think of filling your child’s life with love, it seems like an enormous task. You hardly know where to begin. But you can start by viewing time in little pockets–five minutes here, ten minutes there–that can be filled to the brim right now–not tomorrow or next month or next year. Your constant thought should not be, “When will I ever find the time?” Rather it should be, “I have a five-minute pocket of time; what can I do right now that will get the `I love you’ message across to my child?”

How Do You Say, “I Love You”?

Most parents are willing to give everything they have to their children. They will sacrifice their own needs & work long hours to provide their children with the necessities, as well as the luxuries of life. But if a parent neglects to give a child love, nothing else can substitute for that gap. The child will suffer. Parental love is of primary importance.

You can’t say “I love you” with things. Love can be expressed by words & actions, but in order for either of these methods to be effective, a parent must spend time with a child. Love is communicated by the time spent individually with your child, & by the time spent in pleasant family activities. It is your “presence,” not your “presents,” that really expresses your love.

This does not mean that you must spend every minute with your child. However, when your absence is necessary, you must continue to communicate love messages, & convince your child that your absence does not mean other people are more important to you than he is.

What if a child does not want to spend time with you? Parents of teenagers told me that they would gladly spend time with their children if the children wanted them to. Now they have the time. Their children are old enough to converse & enjoy some of the same activities their parents enjoy. But their teenagers often want nothing to do with them. “Dad never had time for me when I wanted him to take me hiking & fishing; why should I include him in my activities now?”

Make yourself & your love readily accessible. Be fun to be with. Create an atmosphere of warm acceptance & most children, including rebellious teens, will be drawn to you.

Making Presence Qualitatively Meaningful

Let’s go through the day & see how you can get the most out of your time with your children.

  1. Morning: Instead of yelling, “Time to get up,” walk to the children’s bedroom, whisper in their ear that it’s time to get up, & then stroke their foreheads as they open their sleepy eyes.
  2. Goodbye time: Instead of running out the door, say “Goodbye.” Wink at the children as you turn to leave & then blow them a kiss from the car.
  3. Midday: Instead of working straight through the day, take a break & think of a way you can communicate your love to your child. Call him at school, bring him something from the office, remember to tell him the joke you just heard.
  4. Evening: Instead of letting everyone go about their different tasks, do a few things together. Talk, smile, laugh, & give your child a pat on the back when a task is finished.

The Importance of an Unconditional Loving Relationship

The important key to helping our children develop desirable characteristics is love–unconditional love. No matter what mistakes a parent may make, if a child knows that he is loved, he can overlook many of these mistakes. And, with the sense of worth that love brings, he can grow into an emotionally healthy adult.

When parents begin tucking love into every pocket of a child’s life, they must not base this shower of affection & acceptance on the child’s behaviour. The kind of love that must be tucked into pockets of time is the kind of love that is unconditionally given, no matter what the child does.

Enjoy Your Child

It’s always sad to hear parents say, “I can hardly wait for my child to get through the diaper stage.” If you are really interested in filling every pocket of time with as much love as you can pack into it, you must enjoy being with your children. You have to enjoy them just the way they are, at whatever stage they may be. Here are some suggestions to help you create that sense of enjoyment.

Be prepared. Husbands, how do you feel when your wife & children have truly prepared for your homecoming in the evening; when dinner is ready & the mail is lying in a place where you can find it? When someone has made an extra effort on your behalf, you know that person has been thinking about you. You feel loved. Children feel the same way. If you prepare for their birth & their various developmental stages, the time you spend with them will more likely be quality time.

Keep a diary, scrapbook, or picture album. Collecting the children’s cute sayings, anecdotes, photographs, drawings, & other interesting miscellany helps build memories for future enjoyment. Collecting & recording can add to your enjoyment right now, if you keep the task easy.

Play games with your child. Playing games with children means getting involved with them at their level; being responsive to their behaviour. Start at birth. Play the “I’ll touch-your-nose, & tickle-your-tummy, & pedal-your-feet & stretch-your-arms-up-so-high” games. Toddlers love the chase-me-but-don’t-catch-me game & peek-a-boo. Preschoolers enjoy pretend games like let’s-play-house. School-age children enjoy organised games like basketball, baseball & Ping-Pong–if you are skillful enough to allow them to win without letting them know what you are doing.

Dovetail your interests. Young children are interested in collecting earthworms & catching ladybugs, digging in the dirt pile or jumping in the pile of leaves. Forget yourself & enjoy your child’s interests. Pull weeds while you’re collecting earthworms, or finish your crossword puzzle by the pile of leaves. The important thing is that you are enjoying the activity that your child is interested in.

Do what you enjoy (or what you have to do) & take the children along. Why not take the children along on a business trip if you think you might have a few pockets of time when you could enjoy each other? A colleague who works long hours & takes frequent business trips to Washington, D.C. takes each of his teenagers with him once a year. While Dad attends meetings, the teenager fills his mind with thousands of interesting facts & sights at the Smithsonian Institute. Each evening they do something special together.

If photography is your thing, introduce your child to the darkroom. Choose an activity that you really enjoy & include your child, but remember his developmental capabilities. He may not be able to sit through a long meeting, hike ten miles a day, or fish on a quiet lake without rocking the boat, but with a little modification you may be able to take your child along & create a memorable occasion for both of you.

Take time to enjoy each child individually. Ideally each parent should try to spend some daily individual time with each child. Finding this time is more difficult when families are large. With each new birth parents have less time to give the other children alone.

One very busy travelling evangelist, who was also the father of six, solved this problem by making bedtime his time with the children. Every night when he was home, he scheduled their bedtime at half hour intervals. This gave him time to talk over the events of the day, read to the children, & listen to each child’s prayers individually.

Do the Unexpected

I once read an unforgettable account about a father & his 7-year-old son. On an August night, the father bundled up the sleeping child & carried him into the darkness. As the boy’s sleep-filled eyes began to focus on his surroundings, the father shouted, “Look!” And there in the sky the little boy saw a star leap from its place & fall toward the ground. Then incredibly, another star fell, & another & another. That was all. But the boy never forgot that night when his father did the unexpected.

How often do we miss the beauty & richness of life because we are locked into routines & schedules, & we are afraid to take advantage of the unknown, the unplanned, & the unexpected? Keep a “Why-not” list. This is a list of way-out, interesting, crazy things to do with or for your children. When the opportunity is right & the children are least expecting it, surprise them with the announcement, “Why not…?”

At the top of a Why-not list I suggest a love note. Why not write a love note when it is least expected? For years mothers have been tucking little notes into children’s lunch pails, but have you thought about taping a note to his toothbrush, or on the ceiling of his bedroom so he will see it as soon as he wakes up, or putting it under his napkin at the dinner table?

Here are some other “Why-not” ideas. Why not take the child to some unexpected place or do something out of the ordinary? Why not milk a cow? Why not visit the local radio station? Why not paddle down the river or float on inner tubes (if you’ve got a river close by)? Why not sit on the roof & watch the full moon come up? Why not catch butterflies, or fly a kite, or have a three-legged race? Why not camp out in your backyard with sleeping bags & a campfire? Why not just stop in the middle of your ironing or dusting to read your child a story?

Open Doors for Your Child

One of a parent’s greatest privileges is to open new & wonderful doors of possibility to a child. One day, after winning a tennis tournament, the young teenage winner was asked when she first became interested in tennis. She thought for a moment & replied, “it was the day my father gave it to me.” The reporters, not understanding her reply, try to clarify, “You mean, when your father bought you a racket & ball?” “No,” she replied, “it was the day Dad took off from work & played with me. That was the day he gave me tennis.”

Open the door to good cooking by sharing kitchen responsibilities with your child. Let her read your cookbook or take her out to eat at a gourmet restaurant & then encourage her to experiment on her own. Open the door to the artistic world by frequenting art museums & galleries. Plan to open a door for your child today.

Be an Effective Communicator

Studies on teenage runaways suggest that the most important way a parent can help a troubled adolescent is to listen. Running away is a desperate attempt to communicate what parents were not willing to listen to before. Being a good listener is a simple way to show you understand & care. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Show interest in your child’s conversation. Look up. Make appropriate comments. Stop what you are doing.
  2. Don’t correct his speech while he is talking to you.
  3. Focus on the hidden message–if you think there might be one.
  4. Don’t contradict his story or the points he is making until he has finished & wants your opinions.
  5. Don’t squelch a child when he voices offbeat values or comes to an impossible conclusion. Don’t laugh, make fun of, belittle, tear down, or in any other way make it more difficult for a child to open up his heart & ideas to you in the future.
  6. Be an active listener. Active listening means active involvement with the person who is communicating. To show that you are actively listening, make little expressions of understanding, such as, “Yes, ah ha, I see,” etc.
  7. Encourage your child to talk, to express himself, & to share his values & goals. One way to encourage the child to share his world with you is to have a talk-about-it bowl or basket that sits on the kitchen table. During the day, the children can put objects, notes, newspaper clippings, or articles into the bowl that they would like to talk about during dinner.

Write a variety of questions on paper placemats. Cover them with clear contact paper so they will last. Choose questions that will stimulate a good conversation. When the dinner conversation seems to drag, read off a question, like, “What would you do if you just inherited a million Dollars?” Or, “If you knew you were going to die in one month, how would you spend your time?”

  1. Children should be encouraged to communicate on the feeling level.

If children are going to learn to communicate their feelings, then you must encourage them to do so. Does your child know that it is safe to say, “Mommy, I feel sad. Hold me a little bit.” “Mom, I feel discouraged. Do you have a minute to talk?” “Dad, I got angry when you spoke to me like that. Can we discuss it?”

What kind of communicator are you? For one hour while your whole family is together, tape-record your conversation. Then analyse your interactions.

Prepare for Separation

It is often easier for children to accept their parents’ vacations or business trips if they know that they will be invited along some other time. Children suffer most when they don’t know when or why their parents are leaving, and when they feel that they will never be able to join their parents.

When young children are separated from their parents, the most difficult part of the day is often bedtime. One parent solved this problem by reading stories to her child over a cassette tape recorder. Her daughter was reminded of Mom’s love at the end of every day when she heard her mother’s words, “I love you & miss you. So snuggle up in your warm, cozy bed. I’m going to blow you a kiss. Did you catch it? Now there’s a special story for my special little girl.”

Take Advantage of the Prime-Prime-Times

There are extra-special times when your presence or absence will have a tremendous impact on the child. I consider 1) arrival & departure times, 2) performance time, and 3) bedtime as prime-prime-times.

  1. Arrival & departure times. Arrivals & departures should be family celebration times. No matter how insignificant these times may seem, make some preparations & take some time off from your busy schedule to affirm your love for the arriving or departing member of the family.

Departure times can be more meaningful if they are not rushed. In most homes, including ours, the average after-breakfast departure time is a disaster. “Grab your lunch pail.” “Kevin, get your shoes.” “You forgot to wash your face.” “No, I don’t know where your note that I was supposed to sign is.” Finally, when they are gone you collapse in the midst of dirty dishes, thankful that you have once again lived through the departure hurricane that has just swept through your house.

Again, preparation is the key. Our most pleasant mornings begin the night before: The children have prepared their box lunches, set the table, organised their clothes, & put everything they have to take to school by the back door. It also helps when they get up early enough to get themselves ready & still have time to help Jan & me with breakfast. Then we have time to enjoy each other.

  1. Performance time. A child’s performance time is a prime time for parents to show love & support. It doesn’t matter how small a part your child has in a performance, your presence is meaningful. At such times, parents should support their children because they are trying, & pat them on the back even if they strike out or fumble the ball.
  2. Bedtime. Bedtime is by far the nicest, coziest, & most enjoyable part of the day. If I could choose only 15 minutes a day to spend with my children, it would be the 15 minutes before bedtime.

Bedtime can be a hassle if it’s not well planned–if the kids are dead tired, haven’t done their homework, and are bickering about who should pick up the dirty clothes left in the bathroom. To set the stage properly, there has to be adequate preparation & planning. Bedtime is most enjoyable when the children are not exhausted or rushed.

This is the time when I listen to my children’s prayers, tuck them in with a hug & a kiss, & then linger around after the lights are off to chat, rub backs, & snuggle–if they feel like a snuggle.

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Sunbird Quotes

Put a premium on giving your children the positive and well-rounded upbringing they need and deserve.

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Unending Celebrations

From Christmas to birthdays to Republic Day and back to birthday celebrations. As always, the children love to celebrate together. Last month, little Ira enjoyed both the Christmas as well as her second birthday celebration. Ashwin,one of our after school program students, who celebrated his birthday in school thoroughly enjoyed the attention from everyone. To add to the fun was dear Subhashini, for whom the children made a hand made card. Happy Celebrations, everyone!!

 

 

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Paper Power

Welcome to a new year with new adventures! At the onset of this year, we were fortunate enough to visit Jenny Pinto’s paper design studio. What a far out time the children had, some even put their hand to ‘making paper out of banana leaves”! Enjoy their art too.

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Prime-Time Parenting Part 5

LEARNING MORE ABOUT CHILD DEVELOPMENT

Children develop best when parents act on knowledge & educated common sense & not instinct or guesswork alone. Most new parents know very little about child development. Prime-time parents must be willing to learn & to continue learning through a child’s growing years.

If parents have never studied or had much experience with babies & young children, their expectations may be unrealistic. Young teenage parents with little knowledge or experience can expect their children to do certain things before the child is developmentally ready.

In many instances, whether it was a social smile or a first word, these teenage parents expected this behaviour weeks & sometimes months before the average child is actually capable. Imagine how much frustration & anguish these young parents would have been spared had they known what to expect! (Editor: If they’ve had a lot of experience in childcare, of course, this would rarely apply.)

At this point you may want to test yourself to see how well your expectations compare to expert opinion. At what age would you expect the following behaviors to occur? Your score may motivate you to learn more about children!

  1. Sitting up.
  2. Purposefully reaching for & grasping objects.
  3. Understanding when someone is talking about him.
  4. Creeping (on stomach).
  5. Crawling (on hands & knees).
  6. Seeking for a hidden object.
  7. Walking alone.
  8. Understanding the command “no.”
  9. Speaking in simple sentences.
  10. Sleeping through the night.
  11. Peddling a tricycle.
  12. Girls begin menstruation.
  13. Able to draw a diamond.

[Answers: 1) 6mo; 2) 3 mo; 3) 9mo; 4) 7-8 mo; 5) 8-9 mo; 6) 5 mo; 7) 12 mo; 8) 9 mo; 9) 2yr; 10) 6 mo; 11) 3 yr; 12) 11-14 yr; 13) 7yr.]

A Child Development Guide for the Working Parent

There are certain developmental concepts that are extremely important for prime-time parents to know. These concepts relate to the developing child’s needs & behaviour, & can cause family conflicts if working parents are not aware of them.

Infancy–the first year–A Child Development Guide for the Working Parent

The first month of life is an adjustment period for the entire family. Baby is adjusting to life outside of his mother’s warm “incubator.” Mom is adjusting to breastfeeding and/or getting her body back in shape. Dad is adjusting to a new mouth to feed. Dad & Mom are both adjusting to sleepless nights. Everybody is more tired, more irritable, & probably needs more attention than ever before. Mom needs Dad. Dad needs Mom. The older children need to be convinced that their place & importance in the family has not been usurped by the newcomer. And the baby seems to need everything!

Do yourself & your family a favor by taking time to strengthen the relationship between you & your newborn. Spend as much time together as possible. Psychologists consider this period prime time to establish the bonding process.

The absent father (or mother) syndrome begins when Dad or Mom spend very little time with the infant. Time together is the one essential element necessary for bonding to occur. It is impossible to form attachments unless time is invested in a relationship. When the father fails to spend time with the infant during the first four or five months, the child doesn’t recognise him as a familiar person; between five & eight months of age, he may even cry when the father picks him up. If the child doesn’t know his father, he doesn’t develop trust in him, so when the father tries to help the child, the child won’t respond. He cries harder, pushes his father away, & if he has mastered his first word, he now uses it & yells, “Mamamamamama!” This situation is obviously frustrating to the father.

Because of the father’s lack of satisfaction in the relationship, he usually will not respond as readily to the infant’s future cries for help. Instead, he will call for his wife to take care of the infant’s needs. The result, of course, is that the father spends less & less time with the infant. The child never really gets to know & establish a relationship with his father. Thus, it becomes almost impossible for the father to be effective in the care & training of his child.

In too many cases, the father continues to absent himself from the care & nurturing of his growing child. Instead of spending time with his child, he tries to buy the child’s love & attention by offering him little gifts–until he willingly hands his 16-year-old son keys to a new Porsche because he feels guilty that he didn’t have time to watch his son pitch a high school baseball game.

During the first year, a child develops so rapidly that one must always be aware of new skills & capabilities in order to prevent accidents. I often hear parents lament:

“Yesterday he couldn’t roll over. Today I left the baby on the bed for a moment & he rolled off.”

“Yesterday she couldn’t stand up in the crib. I left the guardrail down & today she tumbled out.”

“Yesterday he couldn’t crawl. Today he crawled to the stairs & fell down the whole flight.”

This is a normal pattern during the first year, so it’s vital to know what developmental changes to expect next. Then you can safety-proof your home & avoid needless worry about possible accidents. Put breakables or harmful substances away. Medicines & poisons should be kept in locked containers far out of reach. Caustic cleaning solutions should be stored in childproof locked closets. Discard broken equipment & frayed electrical cords. Place safety plugs in electrical sockets. Turn the temperature on the water heater down so a child can’t get scalded with hot tap water. Remove poisonous plants from the house & yard. Fence dangerous equipment or swimming pools. Remove sharp-cornered furniture. Keep the doors of the older children’s rooms shut, as it is usually impossible to keep every potentially dangerous object there out of reach.

Toddlers–from 1 to 2-1/2 years of age–A Child Development Guide for the Working Parent

This is the time when the child takes his first steps toward independence. He starts talking, so he can ask for what he wants. He perfects his walking, so he can go wherever he wants. He starts feeding himself, so he can eat what he wants. This all culminates in what people call the “terrible twos.” But this child who is growing so independent continues to need people who will give him attention, affection, & affirmation of his worth. The toddler also needs firm, gentle, consistent discipline as he begins testing out parent-imposed limitations in his life.

Preschoolers–from 2-1/2 to 5 years of age–A Child Development Guide for the Working Parent

This is the age when children become more interested in other children. They need a variety of toys & play equipment, & a place to play. They need stories, songs, finger plays, & language development experiences. They need someone to answer their questions about how cows make milk & why birds have beaks. They need to be introduced to their community–to have a chance to go shopping at a local market, take a trip to the barbershop, visit the fire station & the zoo.

Children of this age continue to thrive in groups with a small adult-child ratio. Make sure that the teacher is not overworked, loves her job, & shows an individual interest in each one of her little charges.

The School-Age Child–A Child Development Guide for the Working Parent

Between six & twelve years of age, a child usually experiences steady, developmental progress. The first years in school are an especially important time for a child to learn to step out on his own & make new friends.

School-age children are sensitive to slights. They want to be accepted. They need to discuss their conflicts with an understanding parent who will not belittle them. Relational problems aren’t just blurted out at the dinner table. Children need time to find the right words to ask for help. A typical problem might be, “Mary was calling Julie names & made her cry. I still want Mary to be my friend, but I felt sorry for Julie. What should I do?” This is the time to establish the fact that you are interested in listening to your child’s problems & will offer good practical advice. School-age children are much more interested in asking for & taking parental advice than teenagers. If you take the time to establish good communication with your school-age children, they will be more willing to accept parental counsel when they are teenagers.

This is the age when children need training in taking responsibility. They enjoy completing & checking off a list of chores that have been left for them. They also enjoy learning new skills & playing games.

Teenagers–A Child Development Guide for the Working Parent

Working parents often think they’re in the home stretch when their child reaches his teens. He is not as dependent upon his parents, & he is fully capable of taking care of himself. Therefore, when parents are away from the home they tend to leave teenagers with little or no supervision.

Some working parents, however, feel that it is even more important to spend time with their children during the critical teenage years. This is the age when children can reap bitter consequences if parents don’t provide proper guidance & supervision. One parent stated, “To encourage & influence my teenagers, instead of threatening & forcing them, requires every ounce of my intelligence, judgement & wit.”

Teenagers need attention. They need someone to talk to. They need someone who thinks they are special. If they don’t receive this attention from their parents, & sometimes even if they do, they will establish this type of relationship with someone else. Members of their own peer group often fill this need, & without parental guidance they may be led into drug experimentation or questionable habits that make them feel important.

Teenagers need to be needed. They want to do worthwhile work. If your child is too young for an outside job, create one at home. Hire him to do various chores & pay him whatever you would pay someone else.

Your teenager should be in your thoughts & your plans as much as younger children. Your home must be as responsive to the teenager’s needs as it was to your preschooler’s needs. If it’s not, teenagers will choose to spend their time elsewhere.

+ + +

Now focus on your child & ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do you think your child’s basic needs are at this time?
  2. How are you as a working parent meeting those needs? Is there anything else you feel you should be doing?
  3. As you look ahead to your child’s next stage of development, what changes do you feel you may have to make in order to better meet his developmental needs?

Recognising Problem Behaviour

It is important for prime-time parents to spot problem behavior in its first stages. In this way, necessary changes can be made before deep-seated emotional problems envelop a child’s life. Be aware of the possible signs that may occur when a child does not feel good about himself and when he is experiencing an emotional problem.

Signs of lack of self-worth

Low self-worth does not develop suddenly. It’s a slow process that occurs when a child perceives that the significant people in his life don’t think very much of him. In reality, they may love & care for him very much, but his perception is the important factor. If a child feels that his own parents don’t love him or think that he isn’t as good as other children, his belief in himself will be seriously damaged. Even if parents shower their children with love & support, there may be periods when he feels that other people don’t like him, or that his friends are rejecting him. When this occurs, his self-esteem may suffer.

The behaviors listed below might be considered signs of low self-worth for the pre-school & school-age child. If your child exhibits some of these signs, don’t assume that he has an emotional problem. Consider such behavior an indication that your child could use a little more quality time with you.

Signs of Low Self-Worth

  1. Child is unrealistically fearful.
  2. Does not ask questions or is afraid to answer questions. Encourage questions when you are alone with the child or in a safe family setting. Reward the child for asking questions by saying, “That’s a good question,” or “I can tell you were really thinking.” In turn, ask the child questions. At first, make sure your questions have simple or obvious answers. Accept all answers by saying something like, “That’s an interesting idea.”
  3. When asked to do something, immediately says, “I don’t know how.” Reassure the child that it is okay not to know how. Say, “When I was your age I didn’t know how either.” Offer to do it & “hire” him as your special assistant. Let him do every small part of the task that he is obviously capable of.
  4. Afraid to try things for the first time, even when a teacher or parent offers help. Reassure him that it is acceptable to watch. Let him decide when he will try something new. One way to do this is to ask him, “How long do you think you’ll want to watch before trying?” After he indicates the amount of time he needs, tell him to let you know when he’s ready so you can help him.
  5. Is afraid to be left in a new situation or with a new person. Stay with the child until he feels comfortable. Ask him to tell you when it is okay for you to leave. Don’t appear anxious to go. If you have allowed a reasonable time, you might warn the child, “I will have to leave in one hour.” When the hour is up, go to the child & say, “Goodbye,” tell him when you will return, & leave. Keep your promise by returning on time.
  6. Does not ask for things he needs. Make it easy for a child to ask. Never belittle a child. Reward requests by saying, “I’m glad you asked,” & fulfil the request immediately.
  1. Child exhibits unusual or negative behaviour.
  2. Exhibits excessive, undesirable behavior, such as biting, kicking, hitting or spitting. Realize that these behaviors are indications of a discouraged, unhappy child. Encourage him. Find the little things he does well & capitalise on those. Stop the negative behaviour by saying, “I can’t let you hurt someone else,” but don’t belittle the child with criticism. Teach them positively & definitely.
  3. Seeks attention by doing something prohibited, by acting silly, or by disturbing others. * Ignore the bad behaviour, but say, “I bet you’d like me to play with you. Let’s go…” Later, tell the child that he can use a magic word to get your attention. Invent a word so you’ll both know what it means & the child won’t have to resort to inappropriate behaviour to get your attention. *(Editor: The idea of the magic word is cute & could be effective. However, it’s certainly best not to just ignore bad behaviour.–It needs to be dealt with. If you ignore it, though it may seem to go away temporarily, the problem will probably recur at a later date, as it’s still there in their hearts. You’ve got to come to terms with real problems. Otherwise, you’ll end up, as many modern psychologists & psychiatrists have, blaming bad or anti-social behaviour on circumstances, & never taking the blame yourself.

(It’s true to some extent that our parents, mate or school chums may have affected us adversely, but we have some responsibility too, & we need to teach our children that they have responsibility. For example, perhaps your parents did make some mistakes in not giving you the attention you needed, but you don’t have to live with the adverse effects of that for the rest of your life. You can change your behaviour, & Jesus can help you get out of that channel. So we need to teach our children that no matter what happens, even if we can’t always give them what they need in every respect, Jesus can compensate & be more than enough. He can even help them overcome the adverse results that some of our lacks may have brought about in their lives.)

  1. Exhibits such behaviour as lying, stealing, or otherwise being deceptive. This behaviour is often a cry for attention. Spend more quality time with the child. Let him know that you can’t be deceived. Say simply, “I know you took the tape. The consequence is that you must return it or pay for it.” Don’t get in an argument about the truth of a statement.
  2. Deliberately hurts others or himself. Simply say, “You may not hurt others or yourself.” Stop the child. Hold him. Comfort him. Talk about the situation. “You were really angry. What happened? What else could you do when that happens again?” Make sure he knows that he is special & you won’t allow him to hurt himself or others.
  1. Child is overly concerned about being liked & accepted.
  2. Constantly gives things to people to buy their attention & friendship. Discourage the constant giving of gifts. Concentrate on showing the child how much you like him because he exists, not because of his gifts. Compliment him on things he can’t change; for example, his blue eyes or black curly hair. Spend time with the child when it’s not related to the receiving of a gift. Explain to a child that the most important gift is friendship because that can’t be broken or lost.
  1. Child exaggerates or is unrealistic about certain situations.
  2. Brags or boasts by saying such things as, “I’m better than you are.” Shock the child by agreeing. “You are an important person & can do a lot of things better than _______. Let’s list the things you can do better.” (Think of the obvious. If a child is smaller, he can crawl through a smaller hole, etc.) Then talk about how everybody can do something better than somebody. But there is always somebody who can do something better than you.
  3. Is jealous when a child, parent or teacher shows attention to others. Spend time with the child. Reassure him that he is important & that your love for him will never change.
  1. Child has difficulty with social relationships.
  2. Is extremely competitive with other children. Deemphasize competition. Be sure that both your words & behaviour give the message that the child is valuable whether or not he wins.
  3. Does not initiate contact with others. Show the child how to initiate contacts. For example, show a toy to another child or select a child that looks lonely & walk up & say, “Hi, I’m Jim, do you want to play?”
  4. Does not participate in group activities. Don’t force him. Let him know it’s okay to be a bystander. Give him something special to do.

Emotional problems are often triggered by events & situations in a child’s life that are particularly stressful. The following list indicates some of these potentially difficult periods.

Potentially Difficult Times for a Child

  1. Parental divorce.
  2. Parental conflict in the home (family conflict as well).
  3. Parental tension over work or personal problems.
  4. Disruption of the home routine, such as too much company staying for too long a time.
  5. New situations, like starting school or a new babysitter.
  6. Dissatisfaction with one’s own behaviour, such as not being able to stay dry during the night.
  7. Too much criticism of the child.
  8. Unrealistic expectations of the child.
  9. Lack of sufficient quality time together with the family.
  10. Problems with making friends at school.
  11. Scholastic pressures or difficulties (such as learning to read, meeting a deadline for an essay etc.)
  12. Illness, fatigue, or the death of a family member.

Once in a while my work piles up & several deadlines come due at once. When pressures hit my husband Jan at the same time, we often notice emotional & behavioral changes in our children. During one such period Kevin’s behaviour became atrocious. He refused to get dressed in the morning, he wouldn’t brush his teeth, he wouldn’t get into the bathtub, & once he was, he wouldn’t get out. He couldn’t find anything to do at home, even though his room was filled with toys, so he would pounce upon me like a little lion cub. I shortened my working hours, said “no” to a couple of commitments, Jan caught up at work, & before long Kevin was back to being the spice of our lives instead of the fly that spoiled the ointment!

Once you have observed potential danger signals in your child’s behaviour, what should you do? First, look for the reason. Reconstruct the events of the last month or two. Did anything unusual or stressful happen during this time? Try to pinpoint the onset of this behaviour to give you a clue to the changes that need to be made to prevent further problems.

Second, establish a closer relationship with your child. If your child is very young, spend more time together. Give him more attention & touch him frequently–rub his back or hold him on your lap. If the child is older, do something special together. Show that you are supportive & interested in the child in unique ways. Talk together. Be as open as possible about your feelings.

Third, determine if the problem is a person-problem, a situation-problem, or both, & establish a plan of attack. A person-problem can only be solved by the person with the problem. A person-problem might be a child who bullies other children or a six-year-old who still sucks her thumb. When these behaviors become habitual, they are almost impossible to change unless the children themselves are willing to make a change.

Situation-problems can only be solved by changing the situation, such as a wet diaper etc. These can often be solved by parents, especially if a young child is involved.

Getting to Know Your Child’s Individual Characteristics

Parents must accept & work with what they have–a unique, special individual. Some children are simply more difficult to rear. For example, a child who is moody, & has irregular bodily functions, intense emotions, & slow adaptability is not going to be as easy to raise as a more pleasant, easygoing adaptable child.

Your responsibility is to show your child unconditional love & acceptance–regardless of his individual characteristics or traits. Parents must realistically help a child accept his own strengths & weaknesses & grow toward his own unique potential.

Being the Person You Want Your Child to Be

Although you may not be able to change your child’s innate characteristics, you can influence his development by being the person you want him to be. Children model adults–both the bad & the good.

What about all those bad habits you don’t want your children to pick up? What about smoking, lying, cheating, showing anger, mouthing off, shirking duties, staying up late, or watching too much TV? You may not be perfect in all those areas, but you can give your children these positive examples. Let them know that you want to & can change. Set short-term goals for your advancement, & meet those goals. Recognize your failures. Encourage the family to remind you when you start to fall, & accept your lapses with good humor. Don’t be defensive & spout off hollow excuses. Finally, be willing to apologize when necessary. Don’t blame someone else for your behaviour.

When they copy behaviour that you don’t like in yourself, it is easier for you to recognise it. Furthermore, negative examples are often highly charged emotionally; anger & aggression, for example. Such behaviour is not only easy to notice, it is also very easy for children to model. The next time you raise your voice at the children & threaten them, listen. Before long you’ll probably hear them threaten a younger sibling, curse the dog, or even yell at a toy.

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Sunbird Quote of the Month

Dream new dreams today.Set new goals today. Love your family today. Be a friend today. Spend  your time on things that truly count today. Do things better….today                            Author Unknown

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A Joyous Farewell to 2015

Sunbird wishes all its readers a Happy, and Fulfilling New Year.

Enjoy with us the Christmas performances of the Sunbird Children in various places for the underprivileged. A big thank you to all the parents for their donations to bring cheer to these folks. We are so proud, that we have such willing an joyful little performers.

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Sunbird Quote of the Month

What you leave in your children, is more important than what you leave to them.      Denis Waitley

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The Butterfly Park

After a long spell of rain, Sunbird students ventured out in the end of November and had a surprise sunny day; perfect weather for an excursion!

Thank you dear parents, who took off from their busy schedule to support the teachers! They all had a great day and learned about the beautiful creatures in their natural environment!

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Prime – Time Parenting Part 4

THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY–FULFILMENT FOR ALL

Personal fulfilment comes in the process of helping others. The only way to develop a prime-time parenting personality is to immerse yourself optimistically in family relationships & work to make these relationships as meaningful & harmonious as possible. Book learning, theorising, & philosophising cannot substitute for practical experience. However, immersing yourself in family relationships that will lead to fulfilment in others does not mean that you must deny your own needs.

Your children may thrive when you put yourself first occasionally–if their basic needs are being met & they are assured of your unchanging love. Children benefit by living with parents who feel personally fulfilled.

Regardless of your personality, you can contribute to your own fulfilment by following these five steps.

Step 1: Concentrate on the Positive.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY

Your attitude toward life, toward your job, & toward your family is vitally important. It can affect the entire atmosphere of your home. A positive attitude is conducive to a child’s growth. A negative attitude can have a deleterious effect.

Attitudes are contagious. One downcast family member can discourage everyone else. The opposite is also true.

Attitudes have a magnetic quality. Positive attitudes tend to attract others; negative attitudes repel. Prime-time parents must realise the devastating effect that negative attitudes can have on family morale. The following personality traits can lead to such a negative, devitalised attitude. I call them the deadly D’s. Don’t let them crowd out your chances for personal happiness, satisfaction, & fulfilment.

Dependency: A dependent parent tends to live his life through others–even through his children, forcing them to meet his needs for companionship, support, & decision-making. Single parents must be particularly careful to avoid the tendency to become overly dependent & expect their children to fulfil all their needs.

Denial: Parents who cannot admit their own mistakes or faults seriously jeopardize their relationship with their children. This kind of denial is equally deadly when parents refuse to face family problems or difficulties, & continue on a collision course without seeking help.

Defensiveness: A defensive parent takes everything personally & interprets casual remarks, & even compliments, as attacks or insults. This type of parent is a master at driving children away.

Defiance: The defiant parent boldly resists the authority or opposition of others. He is openly hostile & challenges those who do not share his views. He often appears to have a superiority complex & tramples those around him in order to get what he wants. As children grow older they naturally develop their own ideals. If their emerging values are ignored or ridiculed by a parent with a superior attitude, the children are not likely to spend much time with that parent.

Demeaning: This type of parent constantly puts other people down with comments that degrade them or cause them to think less of themselves. But when children hear words like, “Can’t you ever do anything right?” they are not likely to improve their behaviour or actions. In fact, such words usually have the opposite effect.

Depression: A depressed parent feels so woeful about his World & himself that he tends to withdraw from others & the responsibilities of the household. He is consumed by feelings of gloom, discouragement, & inadequacy. When parents lose hope in the possibility of a better life, they cease any efforts to make changes. This attitude affects every member of the family, & children grow up with one goal in mind–to escape the situation as soon as possible.

+ + +

Can you find something positive in problems, pressures, conflicts, illnesses, crises, failures, disappointments, & less than ideal situations? Consider some of the following possibilities:

  1. Children can learn how to deal with problems by watching their parents cope.
  2. Experiencing negative situations fosters a greater appreciation of the positive.
  3. Solving problems together can bring the family closer together.
  4. A special sense of satisfaction develops when problems are solved.
  5. Learning to develop coping procedures to deal with small problems will give you confidence to deal with bigger problems.

List the negative aspects of your life on one side of a page & then write at least one positive aspect of each on the opposite side. When you are tempted to feel discouraged or depressed about the negatives, think about each positive point & be thankful.

Step 2: Realise Your True Value.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY

A low sense of self-worth usually develops through years of interaction. People learn that they can’t do things as well as others, that they are poor decision-makers, or that they make too many mistakes. To rise above these feelings is by far the hardest task of the prime-time parent. But it is vitally important if one is to grow.

Step 3: Get to Know Yourself and Accept What You Can’t Change.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY

Although you can choose to change your attitudes, your behavior, & your habits, there are aspects of your life that are difficult to change–your physical looks, for example, a physical handicap, the family situation, your job, your previous mistakes. If a positive, dynamic attitude is to prevail, these aspects of life must be accepted. Don’t waste valuable energy by worrying, fretting & complaining about the things you can’t control. Accept them, and channel this energy toward improving those aspects of life that can be changed.

Step 4: Meet Your Own Needs without Sacrificing the Family.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY

The logical consequence of realising your value as a person is to accept the fact that you have certain needs that must not be denied or repressed. Your responsibility then is to develop a plan to meet your needs without sacrificing family needs.

Almost all parents need:

1) Private time of their own;

2) Supportive adult friends;

3) Time to pursue their hobbies & interests; and

4) Someone to take over the household tasks occasionally.

Prime-time parents can meet these needs in various ways.

Need #1: Finding a private time of your own:

  1. Regularly schedule quality private time. The amount of time is less important than the quality of that time. Giving up private time is analogous to forgetting to eat a meal. Missing an occasional meal will not noticeably affect your weight, but allowing this to happen on a daily basis will soon have a significant impact. Missing a private time occasionally will probably have no noticeable effect on your own sense of satisfaction. But continual neglect of this need will reduce your sense of personal satisfaction & harm the quality of family relationships.
  2. Use travel time as your personal time.
  3. Get up an hour before the family & do something you really want to do.
  4. Combine your private time with an activity that is uplifting or beneficial. Many prime-time parents combine exercise time with their private think time.
  5. Reserve the first 15 minutes after you get home from work as your private uninterrupted time. If the family knows how important this time is for you, they will be happy to allow you these few minutes alone.
  6. Buy a headset or earphones & put on your favourite music.
  7. Reserve lunch hours for yourself. Find a comfortable, private place & kick off your shoes. Put your feet up.

Need #2: Supportive adult friends.

  1. Be friendly. Don’t hesitate to be the first one to speak. Show a genuine interest in others. Discuss the other person’s interests.
  2. Seek friends who have families with children of a similar age. When you plan activities together, the children can enjoy themselves & you can enjoy adult friendship.
  3. Invite friends home. Don’t isolate yourself by using the family as an excuse.
  4. Take a honeymoon at least once a year.
  5. Offer to help another working parent when help is needed. When you see the need, fill it without waiting to be asked.
  6. Volunteer your time to help in some worthwhile cause.

Need #3: Finding time to pursue your own hobbies & interests.

  1. Include the family. Encourage them to participate with you. Help them get started on a similar project that you can work on together. Share your interests with the family.
  2. Set up a regular time each week to pursue your hobby or interest.

Step 5: Establish Balanced Family Relationships.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY

Prime-time parents must establish balanced family relationships if they hope to find personal fulfilment for themselves & for each person in the family. There are three essential relational qualities that must be kept in constant balance among family members to insure healthy interactions. These are love, freedom, & responsibility.

Love:

Love is the first & most crucial ingredient for a balanced, harmonious family life. If love is freely given & freely accepted with no strings attached, individual freedom & responsibility can develop.

Love is the strongest power that we all have at our disposal. Experiencing it, & helping others to experience it, will change the most hopeless & discouraging circumstances. Love can even bring major family upheaval & disorder into balance.

Freedom:

Freedom, especially the freedom to make choices, is a vital factor in everyone’s life. The freedom to make choices is enhanced in love relationships because each person is assured that if he makes a poor choice & fails, he will still be loved.

Responsibility:

Responsibility is the third vital quality in relationships. Taking responsibility can mean two things: 1) Fulfilling the duties that are clearly yours; and 2) Taking responsibility for the decisions that you make.

If any family member leans to an extreme in any of these three areas, his life will be thrown out of balance. If a parent’s life is out of balance it affects the lives of those he is living with. It’s similar to the building of a tower. If the foundation stones are not properly balanced, anything placed on top of those stones will lean. As the tower grows, the lean becomes more accentuated, & the lack of balance threatens to destroy the whole structure. In the family, parents are the foundation stones. If their lives are not balanced, the rest of the family is pushed out of balance, & it becomes almost impossible for them to experience personal fulfilment. Other family members are forced to adjust to the tilt or compensate for the imbalance.

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Importance of Play

 

Play is a vital learning medium for a child. In a sense, play is his work. Sunbird students get a lot of opportunities to play, ‘make believe’ time while developing  good friendships at the same time. The toys provided are durable to provide the support  for their play time. Enjoy Sunbird’s happy children ‘at work’.

 

 

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Quote for the Month

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.

–Maya Angelou

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Sunbird’s First Art Exhibition

Dear Reader

The title may come as a surprise, but the intention was just that, to put the children in touch with the professionals of the many areas of learning. Sandhya Sirsi, who invited them to her atelier just a couple of months ago, graciously agreed to hold a exhibiton, with the intention to bring the children and their parents closer to art!! As a continued program, Sunbird is now open on Saturdays for art classes for adults, where the build up happens of six weeks modules. Please do get in touch if interested.

Sunbird wishes its readers a Happy Diwali with posititveness and prosperity for the coming year!

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Learning Pays Off

The children enjoy learning in the afternoons as well. Some of the following pictures are taken of our after care children. Again, lots of repetition brings forth the desired results.Whether play or being guided by a teacher, every moment is a great learning experience. Our piano teacher spices up the musical experience on Tuesdays and has a great ability to get the children interested. He is a well sought after  piano teacher in another music academy. Enjoy the outdoor pics!

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Prime-Time Parenting Part 3

Dear parents, we hope this series is a beneficial write up of how to make  the best of the time with the children. Below are some tips given to address and remedy some misconceptions about time with children. You will also find good tips on benefits of one parent spending time with the child. Happy reading!!!

WORKING PARENTS & THEIR PROBLEMS

The Problem of Not Enough Time

One parent expressed the problem in these words: “There is never enough time to get everything done at home that needs to be done. It is the same on the weekends. Just about the time I feel I have everything done in the home, and want to settle down with the kids or do something for myself, it’s Monday morning again.”

There’s always something to do, whether you’re a full-time working parent, a part-time working parent, or a non-working parent. The important thing is to realise that your children are the first priority. The rest of the time must be planned accordingly. Once a mother chooses to work, it is impossible for her to continue to do everything she did when she was a non-working parent. You have to make choices & decide what is really important for you, & eliminate the rest or find other ways to accomplish the same things.

Here are some solutions that may help you find more time to be with your children.

  1. Take turns. In order to stretch time to meet all your commitments, it is vital to share responsibilities. Such sharing must be flexible, based on the individual’s needs & the particular situation. If one parent tries to shoulder all the responsibilities in one particular area all the time, he or she is likely to feel overwhelmed, resentful, & exhausted.

Some families utilize this concept creatively by allowing each parent “free” evenings. Prime time with one parent is better than halfhearted time with two. Monday & Wednesday are Mom’s evenings to go shopping, write letters, visit friends, or whatever. Dad knows that Tuesday & Thursday is his time off. Just an hour to do your own thing can give you a new lease on life & you will return to your children with renewed energy & enthusiasm for parenting.

  1. Establish a routine. It can save precious time, since everyone knows what to do next & what his or her responsibilities are. It is also true that when children know what to expect, they can be more helpful.

Children, especially young children, need the consistency that routines assure. As a nursery school teacher I often observed the difficulties that a child had when a mother worked irregular hours. The child would be brought to the center at various times–in the middle of a story, during art time, or even halfway through naptime. These children usually had severe adjustment problems–unless they were highly adaptable children. Farewell time was especially difficult since they never knew when Mom would show up again. If the parent brought the child to nursery school on a regular schedule, the child could adapt more easily to the idea of separation.

All children need a regular time each day at home with their parents. Both children & parents are growing & changing daily, & if you habitually miss daily time together, you soon realise that you don’t know each other very well. In addition, there is a warm sense of security that pervades children when they know their parents are consistently there when they need them.

  1. First things first. Limit newspaper reading & watch 30 minutes of daily news on TV instead or listen to the radio while you are involved in another activity. Limit TV viewing. Let the nonessentials wait. As you plan your day or evening, list everything you’d like to do, then rank these items in terms of their importance & level of interest for you. Start the day–or evening–with the most essential, highest-interest activity & proceed from there. Prime time is too short to get bogged down with nonessentials.
  2. Think convenience. When you decorate your home think about convenience. Semigloss paint is easier to wash than flat. Waxing floors is a hassle; choose nonwax vinyls. Cleaning up spills is much easier on a tiled or vinyl floor surface than a carpeted surface. Never buy a knickknack unless you really want to invest time in dusting it.

Fresh flowers may boost your spirits. If so, fine. If not, decorate your home with dry flower arrangements.

When organising the kitchen, place everyday tableware at a level easily accessible to the children. They can more readily set the table & unload the dishwasher this way.

  1. Limit non-family outside social activities. Instead, plan social activities that include the family. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Mind if we bring the kids along?” When entertaining business associates, why not invite them home for a simple meal & an evening with your family, rather than subjecting them to another restaurant? They probably will never forget the occasion.
  2. Wait until the kids are in bed. The evening hours–from the moment you walk through the door after work until the children’s bedtime–should be prime time for the children. For most kids, these hours are the best part of their day. And if you aren’t careful, this prime time will be eaten up by various projects that, with a little planning, could be scheduled after the kids’ bedtime.
  3. Get organised. Work efficiency is diminished in the midst of chaos. Searching for lost objects can waste valuable minutes. Effective organisation does take time, but it takes less time to handle things consistently than to wait until a situation has grown out of proportion.

If the children are encouraged to keep their rooms neat, cleaning is relatively simple. But when clothes, books, & toys are left scattered all over the floor, both children & parents panic at the sight. How much better to stay on top of clutter!

  1. Don’t go it alone. The most successful prime-time parent does not do all of the housework, cooking, laundering, and yard care alone. We all need help & support, even if it’s just emotional support.
  2. Plan special ways to spend time together. Every family has to find its own special ways & times to get together. Carefully consider your favourite group activities & plan specific ways your family can participate in these activities more often.
  3. Pretend Mommy’s in Africa. Every prime-time parent occasionally must spend extra time on a project in order to meet a deadline. When children’s emotional needs are adequately filled on a regular basis, they can usually cope with short periods of less parental attention. When this happens in our family we play the “Pretend Mommy’s in Africa” game. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the self-sufficiency my children exhibit during these times. They even pride themselves on helping me with my normal housework & meal preparation activities.

During an “African trip” to finish this book, a note was pushed under my study door. “Dear Mom, Do you have time to fly home & give us a back rub before bed? Yes?___ No?___ Love, Kim, Kari, & Kevin.” I marked “yes,” & delivered the answer in person. After all, I’m a prime-time parent!

 

The Problem of Guilt

Guilt is another problem of working parents. What happens when you bottle up negative guilt feelings? Let’s consider a typical, imaginary situation. You have had a particularly hard week. The boss demanded that you work overtime, & you didn’t get home until after the children’s bedtime. You feel guilty that you haven’t spent more time with the children. On Monday, you realise you’re beginning to feel depressed. You can hardly get up in the morning & get the children off to school. You arrive at work full of resentment toward the job & toward your boss who makes so many demands. Because you feel guilty, depressed, & resentful, you can’t seem to get organised & your efficiency is significantly reduced. By 5 p.m. you still have a stack of work on your desk & you’re feeling guilty about your work load. You come home frustrated & yell at the children for innocently giggling & goofing around. They stop immediately & put their arms around you, saying, “We’re sorry, mom.” You push them away. “I just need to be alone,” you tell them. Later, when the house is quiet, you begin to feel guilty about screaming at the children. Is there no way out of this endless cycle of guilt?

Now, replay the scene with a few modifications. When you wake up on Monday, face those feelings of depression & guilt. After thinking about some possible solutions, you make up your mind: No more overtime. It just cuts too deeply into your time with the family. Making that decision is a relief, although you’re somewhat scared to tell the boss. You kiss the kids good-bye with a cheery, “See you at five.” When you get to work, you confront your boss immediately. “I felt guilty all last week because I couldn’t spend more time with my children, so I’d rather not work overtime any more. I’m willing to work lunch hours, but my children need me after school. They are disappointed when I’m late. I’m sorry, but I hope you can understand my decision.”

What was the difference between the two scenarios? In the first, you felt guilty, but you didn’t do anything about the feelings & they continued to build up. In the second, you recognised the feelings & took constructive action. As a result, the feelings disappeared.

Working parents often blame themselves (or the fact that they are working), for their children’s problems. Friends, neighbours, & relatives can increase such guilt feelings by wagging their tongues & fingers disapprovingly, “If only she’d stay home & be a mother, she wouldn’t have problems with her children.” Research does not support this idea. Nonworking mothers have as many problems with their children as working mothers. If a mother is happy, whether she is working or not, her children tend to be fairly well adjusted.

However you choose to deal with guilt, do not allow occasional guilt feelings to affect your parenting. The following list includes the most common child-rearing mistakes made by guilty parents.

  1. Overprotecting the child. “I’m not home very often, so I want to compensate by being with my child whenever I’m home & carefully monitoring her time when I’m not home.” Children thrive on age-related independence–not smothering.
  2. Giving unnecessary gifts. Some parents believe that they can make up for their absence by giving gifts. Presents never take the place of parental presence.
  3. Giving in to demands. Children often play on a parent’s guilt feelings to get what they want. Parents fall into this trap by trying to meet every desire & whim of their child. In such situations, the child runs the home–and it’s not a happy place for either parent or child.
  4. Feeling sorry for the child. “Oh, you poor dear. I feel so sorry for you when I have to work. You don’t have a mommy here when you get home from school.” This attitude only encourages the child to feel sorry for himself. Instead, help your child to see the benefits that can be derived from your work.
  5. Allowing the child to escape home responsibilities. “After all, this poor child has a mommy who works, so the least I can do is to make it up to him by doing his chores & picking up after him.” Balderdash!
  6. Ignoring misbehavior. “I don’t want to deal with my child since I’m home so little. I’ll leave that to the babysitter. I want my child to like me, so I’ll just ignore the bad things he does.” This attitude is particularly dangerous because you are encouraging your child to exhibit more of this bad behaviour.

Children need parents who are willing to parent–and that includes healthy doses of both love & discipline. Don’t deny your child his valuable training because you feel guilty about working. Instead, do your best, keep happy, apologize when you fail, & plan ways to avoid repeating the mistake.

 

The Problem of Illness & Fatigue

Most parents don’t consider the possibility of fatigue & illness, whether their own or their child’s, when they plan their life with children. Stark reality is expressed vividly by Jayme Curley, a working mother who wrote in her diary, “Shana has caught the cold I have just recovered from. David & I were up six times with her last night, she was sweaty & coughing. Of the 203 days of her life, she has been sick 50 days with colds, two with stomachaches. I’ve been sick 74 days with colds & the breast infections. David, 15 days with colds. What a mess we’ve been.”

How do prime-time parents cope with illness & fatigue? Prevention is the best answer. As one mother told me, “I don’t have time to be sick, so I put all my effort into prevention.”

 

Prevention

There are three general principles to follow to prevent illness & fatigue.

  1. Keep your family in good physical condition. If you have a minor problem, have it taken care of immediately.
  2. Maintain good eating habits, drink plenty of water, and don’t indulge in harmful practices such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs or smoking.
  3. Use your body carefully. Get plenty of rest & regular exercise. Do not abuse yourself with inactivity or drive yourself too hard.

 

Coping with Fatigue

If fatigue is your problem, be sure to get enough sleep each night & take a few catnaps during the day. Find a place where you can nap during your break time. When you return home, take a 15-minute nap before settling into the evening routine.

Exercise is a good way to get rid of fatigue. Get up for five minutes every hour & move around briskly enough to feel your heart pump a little harder. Try a number of exercises to stretch & move each part of your body. If your office building has stairs, use them. If the lounge has space to jump rope–jump. If there is a recreational facility at your place of employment or nearby, use the swimming pool, racketball or volleyball courts, or the gym.

Diet not only affects your general health, it can also affect your level of fatigue. Diets that are high in sugars, starches, & fats have a way of slowing down the system. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of energy foods, such as vegetables & good protein.

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