When Your Children Are At Their Worst….

You need to be at your best.

You need to set the tone.  Quietly.

You need to calm down.

You need to use your hands gently to help.

You need to approach your child in a true manner that shows you actually want to help them.

You need to be able to pass this duty to someone else in your family if you cannot do it right this minute.  This does not mean you have failed, it means you are human.

You need to still be able to love your child, even if you don’t like them this minute.

You need to know this too shall pass.

You need to know life is full of these moments.

You need to know there is no perfect peaceful house.

You need to know that your child is not doing this on purpose.

You need to know your child loves you and wants to connect with you more than anything.

You need to know you are doing your best.

Many blessings today and every day,

Carrie

Gentle Discipline = Connection Plus Boundaries

We have been talking quite a  bit of late about power, authority and boundaries in parenting.  Our book study of “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers” by Neufeld and Mate spurred the discussion, but boundaries are something I have ALWAYS discussed on this blog.  You can go through the archives or use “boundaries” in the search engine to pull up back posts.

If things are not going well in your home with discipline, here are a few quick tips:

1.  Where are you emotionally and spiritually?  It all begins with you.  Children need to see you modeling how they should be behaving and what values you hold dear.  What comes when as your children grow? When can they go to a friend’s house without you, when can they walk somewhere alone, when can they ride their bike to the corner store, when can they have their first sleepover?  Befriend some mothers with older children and see what issues are coming up for older ages; this helps you plan because you will be there one day as well!

How do you show reverence, how do you show gratitude?

Where is the rhythm of your home?  Where are your moments of laughter, joy, fun, wonder?  What are you doing for demonstrating real work, what is your child doing for real work, what are you doing for sleep, rest, warming foods and nourishment for the soul through singing and verses and stories?  What are you doing to get energy out/outside time?  These things help children of all ages!

How do you speak kindly in your home?  How do you use your words to help each other? 

Are you communicating to your small children that the world is a good place?  That people are helpful and kind?  How are you showing your older grades-aged children beauty?

What is your physical health like?  It can be  hard to be emotionally and spiritually stable and growing if your physical body needs your attention. Sometimes illness, bed rest, an accident can all be a blessing and force us to grow in ways we otherwise would not have, but I am generally speaking here of mothers who run around in their day to day mothering without a thought of water, healthy food or exercise for their own bodies.

2. Are you trying to do this ALL ALONE?  Many mothers are, for a variety of reasons.  Some just will not let their husbands do anything; some are single mothers; some are alone in their marriages.  I have written quite a lot about marriage and even some posts on being alone in marriage, you can refer to those for some encouragement.

You cannot do this all alone; it takes a community of loving family members and friends to help raise a child.  By the time your child is five, this community is increasingly important and by the time your child enters the grades even more so. 

Where do you fit into the equation of the family’s needs? 

3.  Are you connected to your child?  Connection is the basis of discipline.  You do not need words to connect with the small under 7 child, and even the child of 7-9 does not need so many words.  A nine year old does not have logical thinking and less words are truly better!  Connect through being warm and loving, through a steadiness in the home, through physical touch and through play.  Connect with your child by being emotionally stable yourself!

Meditate and pray about your child, look into your heart and see where they are and what they need.  What would uplift them THE MOST at this very moment? 

Sometimes growth comes in spurts with regression, especially for a younger child, and we can tailor our rhythm to these demanding stages. However, very often what an older (six and a half year old and up) needs as they struggle with emotional growth in childhood is to not be rescued and have that feeling of being uncomfortable taken away and alleviated.  Older children, as they grow, need to learn to deal with all of their  feelings, positive and negative, with peers and with people who do things differently. 

4.  What are your boundaries and do you understand what tools are available for each age to help you stick to those  boundaries?

What do you do when your child will not adhere to the boundary?  Sometimes a time-in together or just a little bit of space together outside in the backyard can change the energy just enough – but you still have to go back to the boundary.

Is what you are asking REASONABLE for the age of the child?  And remember, we don’t ASK small children to do things – we do it together.  Exhausting, but alleviates so many problems.

Parent your child for the age that they are – do not treat your ten year old like a three year old and do not treat your three year old like a ten year old!

Look for the next few posts to be from our book study.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Back to Basics: How To “Do” Gentle Discipline

 

Please excuse all the hiccups my computer is having…something is very wrong with my keyboard…..

So, in our last “back to basics” post, we looked at how to develop a framework in order to look at guiding our children  in a loving way.  Another post that may help stimulate some thought on this topic is this back post regarding how parents view children as “defiant”.  You can find that post here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/16/a-few-fast-words-regarding-defiance-in-children-under-the-age-of-6/

When using gentle discipline, the question becomes what tools does one use to guide?  Here is a handy list of things to think about!

1. Your Own Inner Work/Physical State.  If you are exhausted, running ragged, not going to bed, not eating well, not exercising, not dressing yourself and looking pretty, I can almost guarantee that things on the home front will not be going well.  Please, please, step back from everything outside your family and home for a week and get your house in order as much as you can, go to sleep when your babies go to sleep, arrange some help (yes, you must ask! I know how hard that is, but people love you and it gives people a chance to give to you!).  You must have something to give to your children, and that starts with you.  There are many, many posts on here regarding parenting exhaustion and parenting burn-out and what to do.  Please use the search engine on this blog with those terms and see what comes up that resonates with you.

2.  Attachment and connection are key.  This is why I write so much about attachment on this blog.  We have recently been going chapter by chapter through the book “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers” by Neufeld and Mate, and perhaps that will give you some background and inspiration.

How do you connect with a young child?  A young child is in  their body – hug them, kiss them, rub their backs, massage their hands and feet, pat them on the back, tickle them, rough house with them, hold them, carry them, treasure them – and do it at the times when things are falling apart.  Get down to their eye level and love them and support them, even if you don’t feel they are being lovable.  I have written several posts on the “love languages” of children that you can go back to and look at.  What is the love language of your child?  Do you know?  How do you use this EVERY DAY to help you?

Your relationship with this child is what carries the discipline. Please do not use “discipline” as an excuse to squash your child’s will and personality.  Understand your child’s temperament and use that to help and guide you.

Use your words like the pearls that they are!

3.  Imitation Rahima Baldwin Dancy says this in her book, “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher”:  “If you want to teach a certain behavior to your child, one of the best ways is to actually do it in front of (or with) him.  This demands that we as adults get up and actually do something, rather than giving the child orders or directions.”

4.  Humor – Lots of parents take parenting very seriously.  But please don’t take every word that comes out of your small child ‘s mouth so seriously and feel whatever they say is in deep need of serious explanation and weight. 

5. 

Distraction – this is a viable tool for all children under 7, and even children that are 7 or 8  can still be fairly distractible.  However, this takes creativity in the heat of the moment to think of an appropriate distraction.  Distraction is not a bribe; it is a way to change to scene to your advantage.

Distraction can also show itself by changing the environment.  Some children just need to be outside when they are upset!

6.  Using your words to paint a picture in the consciousness of your small child under the age of 7.   This is a Waldorf tool that is very useful with small children.  Instead of pulling children into their heads and into a thought-decision kind of process, try using phrases that paint a picture instead.  This can be anything from “Turn that siren down!” for a noisy little one or “Hop like a bunny over here for some food.”  You are re-directing behavior into something more positive through the images that arise from these types of phrases.  For those interested in more about pictorial imagery, please do see Donna Simmons’ bookstore and look under her audio downloads for her CD entitled, “Talking Pictorially” at www.christopherushomeschool.org.    There is also mention of this with examples on the free Christopherus Audio Download about Waldorf Education as a therapeutic education.

I have written an entire post on this subject here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/01/talking-in-pictures-to-small-children/ 

And here is a post regarding talking to the seven and eight-year-old: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/26/how-to-talk-to-your-seven-and-eight-year-old/  

7.  On the subject of words, try limited choices, less words or no words at all – Sometimes just a look suffices more than a hundred words.  Try just helping your child get into their coat while you sing a song that you usually sing when you go outside.  Try just handing your child their toothbrush after their bath instead of a whole book about the necessity of dental hygiene. 

8.  Time-in.  According to Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting,

“Sometimes parents are advised to use a time-out instead of spanking their kids – as though these were the only two options available. The reality, as we’ve seen, is that both of these tactics are punitive. They differ only with respect to whether children will be made to suffer by physical or emotional means. If we were forced to choose one over the other, then, sure time-outs are preferable to spankings. For that matter, spanking kids is preferable to shooting them, but that’s not much of an argument for spanking.”  -Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting, page 65-66.

“Time-out is actually an abbreviation for time out from positive reinforcement. The practice was developed almost half a century ago as a way of training laboratory animals….When you send a child away, what’s really being switched off or withdrawn is your presence, your attention, your love. You may not have thought of it that way.” -Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting, page 26-27.

So, consider the value of time-in instead.  Some families have a place where adults and children can sit together until they all calm down, some mothers just have their child sit near them while they do some sort of rhythmical work.

9.  Ignoring –yup, you heard me right.  The Gesell Institute books routinely recommend turning a blind eye to some of your child’s behaviors if it is not hurting others or themselves (or just driving you plain crazy!).  There are times to draw a line in the sand, but if you nit-pick every behavior, you are on the verge of demanding, and not commanding as an Authentic Leader.

10.  Physical follow-through – If you say something to a small child, you should expect to have to physically  help them follow through.  You should expect to have to physically hold an upset child if they need it.  The physicality of life with a small child is always there – hugs, kisses, a lap to sit on and help to do things as needed.  The child’s respect and dignity always needs to be respected, so you need to be calm when you are following through, but please remember a young child under 7 is probably not going to function well on verbal directives alone.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy states in her book, “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher”:  “It isn’t until elementary-school age that a child is ready to respond consistently to authority that is expressed only through the spoken word without being accompanied by actions. With the preschool age child, you need to correct and demonstrate again and again, but you can’t expect children to remember it.  Their memories simply aren’t that mature yet.”

11. RESTITUTION – How does the child make this right?  No moralizing, no lecture, just what ACTION can they take to make it right?  Do this AFTER a time-in, after everyone has calmed down!

11.  FREEZE!  One of the best tools in parenting is learning to take that quick pause in your mind’s eye and ask yourself if what you are about to do is going to help your child be the adult they were meant to be; is it going to escalate or de-escalate the situation, is it going to teach your child something or is it just a moment of anger for you that will pass?

Many blessings,

Carrie

Back to Basics: The Framework for Gentle Discipline

This month we are headed “Back to Basics” in honor of The Parenting Passageway’s birthday.  We will be taking a look at the hallmarks of peaceful family life:  ourselves and our framework toward the family, children and gentle discipline, the environment in which we live, rhythm and moving into looking at the holistic child and education.  This promises to be a renewing month!

So, to kick us off, here is one of the first posts I ever wrote on gentle discipline (October 2008), updated for today!

GENTLE DISCIPLINE AS AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP

From infancy on, children need loving guidance which reflects acceptance of their capabilities and sensitivity to their feelings.”  THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, published by La Leche League International.

 

“In practice, gentle discipline means making mistakes, working with your own anger, and growing as a person.”  (Adventures in Gentle Discipline, pageXXii).

“We would like to think that children learn the civilizing virtues- caring, compassion, consideration- simply by our good example, but most children need a little more than that. A clear definition of acceptable behavior, our expectation that they can meet the standard, and periodic guidance when they stray- all of these are necessary…..Guiding our children-lovingly-is an important part of caring for them and helping them to be loving and lovable to people within our families and beyond.” (THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, page 256-7, Seventh Revised Edition).

“Gentle discipline means, quite simply, placing empathy and respect at the very center of your parenting.”  (Adventures in Gentle Discipline, page 3).

Okay, quick!  When I say the phrase, “Gentle Discipline” what comes into your mind – the first thing? No censoring!  For many of us, gentle discipline equates with permissiveness and the thought of a Kids Gone Wild Video!  For others of us, gentle discipline equates with being the parent, who, for lack of better phrasing, is the “valium parent” –you know, the parent who never raises their voice, the parent who is always calm and composed.  “Okay, you just pierced your little brother’s nose with a screwdriver in the garage?  Okaaaay, maybe next time you should ask before you do that!”

Maybe some of us are sad when we hear this phrase, because we would like to not be yelling at our children, or hitting our children, but we are not sure what other tools we have in our toolbox to use.

What if I told you I see gentle discipline in a completely different light?

Many parents equate discipline to punishment.  My Webster’s Dictionary defines discipline some other ways, including as “instruction”; “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character”.  I love the idea of discipline being a way to guide or lead a child. There are consequences to the behaviors we choose as individuals, but many times we punish children for being in a developmentally normal state.

Eda LeShan, in her wonderful article, “Please Don’t Hit Your Kids”, published in Mothering Magazine in Spring of 1996, writes:  “We actually tend to hit children who are behaving normally.  A two year old bites because he doesn’t yet know better ways to deal with problems.  A five year old steals crayons at school because five is too young to control the impulse to take what she wants when she wants it.  A 10 year old lies about having joined some friends in teasing a newcomer at school, since at this age it’s normal to want social approval more than fairness.  It takes many years to learn self-restraint.  This is not a crime.  And making children feel guilty and bad doesn’t solve the problem.  What is called for is help in making retribution, having adults explain why such behavior must be overcome.”

Guiding with loving firmness.  THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, page 257 states: “Discipline is a much maligned word, often associated with punishment and deprivation. Yet discipline actually refers to the guidance which we as parents lovingly give our children to help them do the right things for the right reasons- to help them grow into secure, happy, and loving persons able to step out in to the world with confidence in their own ability to succeed in whatever they set out to do.”

“Bear in mind that to say children are equally deserving of dignity and respect does not have to mean that the relationship itself is of equal power. As a parent, you have a broader view and more life experience to draw from, and these are assets you bring to the child as his adult caretaker. You also bear more responsibility for choices surrounding your child than he does.” (Adventures in Gentle Discipline, page 11).

So, there is another oft-maligned word that  I believe needs to be attached to the idea of discipline as a way to guide a child – and that word is AUTHORITY.  Authority is a word that leaves a bad taste in many parents’ mouths.  “Authority?  We don’t need any of that here!  Our home is not a police state!”

Well, when I looked up authority in my Webster’s Dictionary, it said that authority is “a citation from a book or file used in defense or support”, “a decision taken as a precedent”, or finally, “power to influence or command thought, opinion or behavior.”   Influencing my child’s behavior is part of my job as a parent, but I felt it did not get across everything I wanted to say in this situation.  Then I noticed that authority and the word a few entries above, authentic, share the same root.  The dictionary says that authentic is “authoritative” and “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to fact of reality:TRUSTWORTHY.”

So, perhaps you could view your path in gentle discipline as a way to authentically guide your child.  You, as a trustworthy, authoritative guide. You, providing loving boundaries that will guide your child toward being a healthy adult.

Truly AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP. 

How can you be an authentic parent today, building connection and warmth with your child to guide them effectively into the adult you would like them to be?  What kind of adult do you want them to be?  What values does your family hold most dear and how do you SHOW that in action to your children?

Many blessings,

Carrie

Time-in, Time-out

(I had a lovely mother email me about time-in versus time-out and she bore the brunt of listening to some off-the-top-of-my-head musings, so I just wanted to thank her for inspiring this post…Hopefully this post is my coherent than my initial ramblings…)

Time-in is still getting a lot of press around parenting circles in the United States this summer.  To me, the traditional version of “time-out” complete with naughty chair and one minute for every year of the child’s age is the equivalent of emotional spanking.  You can read what I have written about time-out here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/12/more-about-time-in-for-tinies/  and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/23/discipline-without-distress-chapter-four/  and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/20/why-should-i-consider-time-in-instead/ 

I also have just a common-sense kind of beef with time-out:  if your child is that calm that they can go and sit in a chair to “think”, then they probably could have been addressed with other methods of positive discipline to guide them.  I am all for helping to  guide children.  Try some different ideas than time-out here in this post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/23/gentle-parenting-and-boundaries/

The opposite end of this spectrum is that when children are not calm and they are falling apart, this is not a teachable moment.  If you need a time-out as a parent, I am all for that.  However, for the child end of this equation, if your child is so upset and they are melting, how is sending them with their overwhelming feelings to sit in a chair going to help them make the most of this opportunity to learn? Please look at that “More About Time-In For Tinies” post listed above for some tips on handling meltdowns!

I also find that Americans and the Brits are really the only groups where time-out seems to come up at all.  So I think there is a strong cultural component that is influencing the use of time-in in parenting in this country. 

That being said, some people are saying some things about time-out that I wanted to bring out.  In the book “Attached At The Heart”, Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, founders of Attachment Parenting International, argue that “time –out” should be re-defined:  “We would like to take back this term, remembering its original intention:  stopping the activity, taking a break, and coming back with renewed perspective.  Keeping this in mind helps parents work on their relationship with their child, rather than focusing on the child’s behavior, and make efforts that strengthen the parent-child connection.”

Some people have argued that time-in is not much of a deterrent toward changing behavior.  What time-in gives a child is the chance to connect.  Time-in is not a punitive strategy;  it is a strategy toward making a teachable moment happen and calming everyone down.  Lawrence Cohen, PhD and author of “Playful Parenting”, has a whole section in this book entitled, “ Choose A “Meeting On the Couch”  Over a “Time-Out” (page 234).  I would encourage everyone to read this book, and this section in particular as he talks about time-outs were supposed to be a humane alternative to hitting children and have now ended up as the ultimate tool of positive discipline but that time-outs “enforce isolation on children who are probably already feeling isolated and disconnected.”  He goes on to talk about how one COULD use time-out in a better way:   1.  By inserting yourself into a child’s play when things are ramping up and play with the child(ren) (to me, this is like the way I say “Hold The Space”  This may work well for sibling fighting!  You could say “Time-out!  I am going to play with you all now too!”  2.  Providing a time-out for YOURSELF (which I am all for!) or 3.  Giving children a cozy place they can go to and calm down in when they choose to go there, for however long they choose to stay there (I find this can work for children coming up on 9, but that many small children just do not understand the concept of being by themselves to calm down; they need your help!)

He also talks about how punishment gets a child’s attention, but how our goal should be to get a child’s attention  in order to connect with that child, not to scare them, not to show them “who is boss”.  To me, every single thing you do and say and construct within the rhythm and environment of your home should be modeling how a calm and compassionate adult functions and lives; not punishment!  My nine-year-old said to me tonight, “Mommy, how did grown-ups get to be so smart about everything?”  She is surrounded by smart, confident, wonderful and caring adults in our neighborhood, our church, through our friends.  These are authentic, real people, not people who pretend to like children and grit their teeth and smile.  She is impressed with these people, and so am I!  She doesn’t need punishment to get attention or to figure out that adults know things; she sees this modeled each and every day!  Keep your eye on your ultimate vision for your children as laid out in your Family Mission Statement and the gentle tools that are appropriate for your child’s age in order to guide them!  If you need help understanding your child’s development stage by age, please do see the posts on the one-year-old, the two-year-old, the three-year-old, etc, all the way through age nine on this blog, and go back to those posts on the Family Mission Statement if you need help there. 

I like this quote from Lawrence Cohen’s book (please do see his website here:  http://playfulparenting.com/index.html – there is now an AUDIO version of his book out, for that I am excited!  I have the book, but I could envision listening to the audio version in my car, etc.)…  He writes, “We are often reluctant to give out love to people who have been bad, even when it’s what they need.  I have always liked the poem by Edwin Markham, which A.S. Neill quotes in the beginning of his book Freedom—Not Licensel:

He drew a circle that shut me out -

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,

But Love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in!”

Still not convinced?  I am all for boundaries!  You can still be gentle and have boundaries.  You can still love your child and keep boundaries.  In fact, I think if you truly love your child, there MUST be boundaries.    But I am also all for understanding a child’s developmental stage and working with that in a positive way.  As Barbara Coloroso, author of “Kids Are Worth It!  Giving the Gift of Inner Discipline” says regarding discipline:  Leave your child’s dignity intact. 

Help your children by guiding them with LOVE.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Celebrating Children Who Say “No!”

Sometimes we can smile with a small toddler as they reach for something in an obvious gesture of embrace but are still saying “no”. However, in general, many parents frequently feel frustrated when small children start using the word “no” (and yes, I do know this is because your precious one has said “no” literally 800 times today!).  It also seems as a society we rarely celebrate our older preschoolers or older children being able to say “no” to us .

No really can be a cause for celebration if you look at it in the right way.  Why do I say this?  The word “no” is a true expression of My Own Will.  Without the ability to say no, there are no boundaries between Me and Other.  And boundaries are something that can really serve your children well when they are adults!

I am reading this interesting book called “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  This book was published in 1992, so perhaps some of you have already read this.  One of the points in this book is that the word “no” is a basic word we use to set boundaries in our lives, and boundaries can help us as adults answer such questions as how can I set limits and still be a loving person, how do I answer people who would like my time/money/love/energy, how do we set boundaries without feeling guilty.  Anyway, I don’t agree with everything in this book, but it is worth a look if this is an area that is challenging for you!

I also like what Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears say in their book, “The Discipline Book:  How to Have A Better-Behaved Child From Birth to Age Ten”:  “Saying no is important for a child’s development, for establishing his identity as an individual.  This is not defiance or a rejection of your authority.  Some parents feel they cannot tolerate any nos at all from their children, thinking that to permit this would undermine their authority.  They wind up curtailing an important process of self-emergence:  Children have to experiment with  where their mother leaves off and where they begin.  Parents can learn to respect individual wishes and still stay in charge and maintain limits.  The boundaries of selfhood will be weak if the self gets no exercise.  As your child gets older, the ability to get along with peers in certain situations (stealing, cheating, drugs, and so on) will depend on her ability to say no.” (page 67)

I have also seen the opposite:  mothers who rarely say no to anything.  Saying no is not negative; I have written about “The Power of A Well-Placed No” here for your reading pleasure:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/06/the-power-of-a-well-placed-no/

So how can we as parents better embrace and respond to when our children say “no”? 

1. For small children, do look at what is behind the “no” a child is saying.  Maybe the no is really I don’t want to go to bed (but I really am tired).  Maybe the no is I don’t want to stop playing to go to the bathroom.  Maybe the no is something else.  So being able to look behind the no to see what is the true need or want is important, and will help everyone get their needs met.

2.  Give small children your time to help transition, and have a rhythm to things.  If small children are engaged in something, give them time to switch gears with your help.  Songs and verses for these  transition points are helpful here.  A rhythm is also helpful because then a child knows what comes after what every day. 

3.  If there is a natural consequence for a child not doing something, then  you must follow through.  I know everyone is going to write and ask for examples of this, but really this is variable family to family and also depends upon the age of the child.   Perhaps an example would be with a child who won’t wear a coat to go outside on a freezing cold day.  No coat, no outside.  When the coat goes on, the child can go outside. 

4.  Please don’t let your child’s resistance to something make you doubt yourself.  Your child is not choosing to get cavities just because they don’t want to brush their teeth.  I don’t mean this to give an excuse for some really authoritarian parenting, but I do want you to feel empowered that you do know something about what your child needs!

5.  Recognize that older children say “no” in different ways, such as the famous “You’re mean!” “You’re not the boss of me!” or things to sidetrack the whole original issue. Less words and a calm tone can be helpful here.  Don’t get sidetracked and feel as if you have to verbally respond to everything your child is saying.   Love your child, be warm, but stay the course.

Many blessings,

Carrie

“Discipline Without Distress” – The Last Chapter!

Well, we did it – we are now on the last chapter of “Discipline Without Distress” by Judy Arnall and ready to move on to our new book, “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.  You can order it through Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Your-Kids-Parents-Matter/dp/0375760288/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279245565&sr=8-1

Let’s finish this book up!  This last chapter is entitled, “Technology Without Distress: Educate, Not Ban.”   Despite the title of this chapter, the author makes a great case for the fact that babies, toddlers, and school-aged children do best with hands-on learning and have no need for technology in the Early Years and Early Grades (see for yourself on  pages 368-371).

Judy Arnall writes in the beginning of the chapter about how we are currently in a generation gap due to technology.  She equates things such as instant messaging to book discussions thirty years ago, the internet to encyclopedias, books, microfiche thirty years ago.  She notes that “of all the electronic devices designed to make adult and children’s lives easier, computer and video games, as well as instant messaging and the internet, are the major concerns of disciplining and parenting.”

Her first topic to tackle is one of safety on the Internet and how to discuss this with children, how to talk about the fact that what one says in email and on the Internet is permanent (including photographs and video).  I think one could also add that the computer should be in a public place of the house, and that there should be ways to block certain content of the Internet.

In her section regarding “Games, Games, Games….What’s the Difference?” the author equates an adult getting a scrapbook kit or golf clubs and being told you can only scrapbook or  play for one hour on Saturdays.  She writes, “You are probably feeling disappointed, angry, and frustrated at the limitation, especially in spite of this whole new world opened to you.  This is probably how a child feels for the first time she experiences a computer or video game.”

I personally think this makes a great case for introducing technology later rather  than sooner.   I think that small children especially can have a rather “more”-ness about them with rather poor self-control as this is part and parcel of being a child.  Adults can be like this as well, but hopefully an adult can temper the “more” they want and look to themselves for happiness, for creativity.  I am not certain video games provide a helpful teaching tool for that, especially after all my research on boys and how boys can become easily “visually addicted”.  I will refer you to Don and Jeanne Elium’s “Raising A Son” for more regarding this. 

Judy Arnall cites the good things about gaming, including academic benefits, life skill benefits, and socialization benefits.  She talks about the need for moderation and considers if her teenagers are involved in other activities that it is all working out okay, and she advocates for a balanced life.

I personally feel most of the suggestions in this chapter, especially the section on gaming, was aimed more at teenagers (except for the pages 368-371 listed above) than smaller children.  However, one certainly is seeing a big push for computers and games for small children in pre-school and kindergarten and certainly in the elementary school years, at least here in the United States.

Judy Arnall admits she has a “pro-gaming” stance.  For the other side of this argument, I will direct you all to this post from the Alliance For Childhood:  http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/learning-more/articles-on-aspects-of-waldorf-education/fools-gold-a-look-at-children-and-computers.html

Please share with other mothers how you handle media (TV, computers and gaming) in your homes along with the ages of your children.  Help other mothers make informed decisions for their families.

And please do look for the first post in our next book study!

Many blessings,

Carrie