What are we teaching our children?

I have an interesting angle to look at the world our children are growing up in these days.  I am a mother of a second and a third grader as well as a kindergarten teacher.  I see children all day long.  I see life through the eyes of my sons, my students, my colleagues, the parents and the community.  I see life.

I sit back and watch. I listen. I learn.

Here's what I see... we are teaching our children the wrong things, and saying we are doing it for them, to help their confidence, to help their self-esteem.  But let me tell you something... we aren't!

What are we teaching a child when you tell them they did a great job, but they didn't even try their hardest?

What are we showing a child when we do every task for them, from homework, to tying shoes, to projects, to standing up for themselves?

What are we telling a child when you reward them at home because they didn't get rewarded at school and other children did?

What are we telling a child when you complain to the school because you didn't like the grade your child received even if it was the grade your child earned?

What are we showing a child when we reward them for participating, will we have to reward them for waking up? for eating their dinner?  why reward people for doing what they are expected to do?

What are we teaching a child when you blame the teacher for a mistake your child or another child made?

What are we showing a child when every child makes the team, get the medal, wins the prize?

I want my sons to try their best.  I want them to realize they can't always be the best. I want them to own up to their mistakes.  To do what is expected... because it is expected.  I want them to see that they are not perfect... that no one is perfect.

So often I see children who are afraid to try.  They are afraid to fail. They do not know how to try.  They do not know how to live without someone helping them.  I hear more I can'ts in my room than ever and when I say try, they look at me with helpless looks.  As a society we are enabling children.  We are telling them it's ok you don't have to do this because it's hard.  Let me tell you... life is hard.  We need to teach children to deal with challenges not run away from them.  We need to teach them that they are not perfect.  You will not always get an A, or even a B.  You will not always succeed.  But, you need to hold your head up high, admit that you tried and next time try harder.  We need to show children that we make mistakes.  That we aren't perfect and that it is OK.

So next time you go to do something to make it all better... think about what you are teaching your child... and think about it from all angles.  They don't need you to rescue them, they need you to support them as they grow into adults.

Don't judge me

I've been blogging in my head all day today.  For some reason I just had to type out this post....

Every parent is worried that they aren't doing it right.  They seem to feel like other parents get it and they don't.  We look at other people and think they have it together, or they don't.  We think their children are better than our... or worse.  We judge each other, lets admit it.  But, what we need to look at is why we are different.

I know that when I think about the choices we make with our children it is based on three main ideas... are they safe, does it help them become productive adults, and does it keep me sane?  Yes you read that last one correctly.

Let me give you some examples.  I let my children help in the kitchen all the time.  Now I will not let them turn on the stove because they can't safely reach the controls, but I will let them stir pots, flip quesadillas, drop pasta or other things with my supervision.  Both of the boys also know how to use knives, but can only use them at the kitchen table at dinner or with permission on the cutting board.  I've set up parameters to keep them safe, but they are learning self help skills that will help them when they are adults.

Bedtime is one of those areas that people judge others on.  My boys at the ages of 9 and 7 go to bed between 7:15-7:30 most nights.  I know a lot of people who feel this is way to early. I also know others who feel that children should not have bedtimes.  So why do my children go to be at the time they do?  My boys get up at 6:30am on school days.  Children at this age range need 10-11 hours of sleep each night.  I feel bedtimes routines are important throughout life.  I still have a bedtime routine.  I want my sons to understand the importance of sleep and they they can settle themselves down to sleep with their routines.  Now, do my children stay up late from time to time... yes.  Do they skip parts of their routine at times... yes.  But, can they go right back into their routine and go to sleep... yep.

The last part is my sanity... by having the kids in the kitchen with me they have time to talk to me, to learn life skills and I can keep an eye on them.  Bedtime is more of a for my sanity thing.  When I know they are going to bed at a certain time I know I will have time to get things done, to relax and settle down myself before bed.  I know I won't be fighting with an overtired cranky child.

So next time you are judging a parent on why they are doing something remember you don't know what motivates them to make the decisions they do.  Maybe that parent who is giving in and buying the screaming child the treat he want is motivated by not being embarrassed or is motivated by the child's happiness?  Maybe the mother who is losing her temper with a child is motivated by the child's compliance or has already lost her sanity that day.

The point is... all parents feel like they aren't right, so don't judge them because they are different.