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A Child’s View of Discipline

There’s a lot of talk these days about meeting children’s needs. And rightly so. We know that not meeting children’s needs – whether emotional, physical, or cognitive – can have a devastating impact on development.

But when I talk with young parents, I often hear confusion about the subject. It seems in their eagerness to provide adequate nurturing, they’re forgetting that children still need discipline. 

Some of the confusion may be due to how they were raised. Perhaps their own mothers and fathers were overly strict, or weren’t present in their lives. Now they feel the need to carry permissiveness to the extreme.

But being nurturing isn’t the same as being permissive. First of all, please understand that during infancy a child’s wants and needs are one and the same. An infant that wants to be held, rocked, changed, fed, etc., also needs those very same things. In fact he must have them.

But as they get older, around the age of two, children’s wants and needs begin to separate. The individual “will” becomes stronger. You’ve heard of the terrible twos?

The child may cry for things he sees in the store, resist his parents’ efforts to bring him in from play, or insist on having ice cream before dinner.  

A parent may think, “If I’m a nurturing mother (or father) shouldn’t I give her what she wants? If for no other reason, only to keep the peace? After all, we got up and fed her and rocked her in the middle of the night when she was an an infant.”

Here’s where the misunderstanding arises. Being a nurturing parent is not inconsistent with providing loving discipline. If fact, not providing discipline actually keeps the child an infant much longer, and incapable building tolerance for healthy stress. Enabling a child by giving in to every whim, or doing for him what he can do for himself, can be terribly crippling. And then when parents and teachers require something that is the least bit difficult or taxing, he or she will not be willing or able to do it. No wonder parents are exhausted!  

To be capable of dealing with the healthy stresses that occur in daily life, children require discipline. It can’t all be a bed of roses. Or they won’t ever learn to delay gratification, pick up their toys, dress themselves, or cooperate with any simple directive – either for their own good or the good of the family.

Here are two scenarios that depict positive discipline – words and actions that make a child feel secure.

Three year-old Emma yawns. It’s seven o’clock p.m.

Emma: I want some more cake, Daddy.

Dad: That cake sure is yummy, but I’m positive it will still be there tomorrow.  Now it’s pajama time! Then we’ll read a story. Let’s go pick one out.

Emma: (She’s already forgotten about the cake.)

Dad: (Takes Emma by the hand and guides her to the bookshelf.)

End of discussion. Dad gives Emma what she needs, not necessarily what she wants.

Here’s a scenario with a mother and her five-year-old son:

Mom: Time to wash up for supper, Jonathan.

Jonathan (playing video game): Just five more minutes! I have to reach my goal.

Mom: I already gave you a warning. (She puts down her potholder, goes to Jonathan, removes the remote from his hand, and takes him to the bathroom.)

End of discussion. Mom is consistent. She follows up on what she said she would do.

Quite a few years ago a university professor provided me with this collection of insights on discipline from a child’s point of view. I think the list pretty much says it all.

1. Don’t spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not have all I ask for. I’m only testing you.

2. Don’t be afraid to be firm with me. It makes me feel more secure and I prefer it.

3. Don’t let me form bad habits. I have to rely on you to detect them in the early stages.

4. Don’t make me feel smaller than I am. It only make me behave stupidly “big.”

5. Don’t correct me in front of others if you can help it. I’ll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.

6. Don’t make me feel that my mistakes are sins. It upsets my sense of values.

7. Don’t protect me from consequences. I need to learn the painful way sometimes.

8. Don’t be too upset when I say I hate you. It isn’t you I hate, but your power to thwart me.

9. Don’t take too much notice of my small ailments. Sometimes they get me the attention I need.

10. Don’t nag me. If you do, I shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.

11. Don’t make rash promises. Remember that I feel badly let down when promises are broken.

12. Don’t forget that I have trouble explaining myself as well as I would like to. That’s why I’m not always very accurate.

13. Don’t tax my honesty too much. I am easily frightened into telling lies.

14. Don’t be inconsistent. That completely confuses me and makes me lose faith in you.

15. Don’t put me off when I ask questions. If you do, you will find that I stop asking and seek my information elsewhere.

16. Don’t tell me my fears are silly. They are terribly real to me. You can do much to reassure me if you try to understand.

17. Don’t ever suggest that you are perfect and infallible. It gives me too great a shock when I discover that you are neither.

18. Don’t ever think that it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology make me feel surprisingly warm toward you.

Don’t be afraid of your child, or that he or she won’t love you if you discipline them. Just the opposite is true. Thanks for reading Family Field Guide. Now go hug up your kids! FFG

 

 

The 60/40 Conundrum: When Listening to Your Skin Makes Sense

Only pure cotton ever touched my babies’ skin. Anything 60/40 or treated with flame retardant I stuck back on the rack, mostly because I myself am extremely sensitive to textures. My instincts told me that if I needed clothing that was smooth and pure, my babies did, too.

How I survived panty-hose I’ll never know. For me, it’s got to be natural, because I feel “synthetic” at a cellular level.

Around Christmastime I bought a new pair of pajamas. A pair I firmly believed to be 100% cotton. The fabric felt so comfy in the store, but when I wore them to bed, I soon found that I wanted to rip them off.

Only I didn’t.  I wore them because I believed they satisfied my requirement for high-quality fabric, and nobly suffered through – which is what we often do when we believe something to be of value. Maybe someone tried to convince us, or we heard a commercial.

Think sugary breakfast cereals that your kids convinced you to buy. Think every little toy you knew would break the minute you got it home. Think the BS the neighbor gave you when she promised to bring your kid straight home after the movie. And all the times you really knew better and didn’t follow through.

It was the same unsettled feeling that came over me when my older daughter went to spend the night with a girlfriend, a spoiled brat who gave her constant grief at school. I knew it had to be a set-up but let her go anyway.

Refusing to accept the fact that I was pretty much freaking out over these cotton pajamas, I kept wearing them. In fact, I alternated them with my other pajamas, also 100% cotton – not sexy but warm and functional. I washed them again and again and added natural fabric softener.

But the minute I climbed into bed, they made me nuts. Completely denying my intuition,  I tossed and turned , sometimes getting up in the middle of the night to put a camisole on underneath. In the morning I felt like the The Princess and the Pea: skin irritated, tired and grumpy.

One night as I lay there, I grasped at a nebulous thought.  What if. . . Maybe I should . . . Check the label.

Leaden-brained, I wondered if I could overcome my inertia.

I turned on the light, found my reading glasses, and removed my top. The results made me giddy. The label said 60/40, poly-cotton. I instantly hopped out of the bottoms and threw both pieces in the closet, damning them to hell.

All that time I had believed them to be 100% cotton. How had I misread the fabric contents in the store? Why had I not trusted my skin?

Perhaps I had confused the jammies with a similar pair on the rack whose label said 100% cotton.  Because of my preconceived notion I had forced myself to wear them and made myself miserable.

I always trusted my instincts with my kids, rarely second-guessed a decision. And I’m glad of that. By trusting the “gut” now, I learned early on, parents save miles of heartache later.

But how can parents know for sure what to do?  Whether to follow a mother-in-law’s advice encouraging them to let the baby cry it out;  a friend’s suggestion to send a child to preschool; or pressure from a teeny-bopper to spend the night at a friend’s house?

Don’t fall into the trap of self-censorhip.   

The answer is always inside us. We really shouldn’t need to check the label, do research, ask others what they would do. We only need to let our instincts guide us, listen to our parent’s heart. Listen to our skin. And then do what we think is right. FFG

This Isn’t a Shopping Blog – But . . .

My grandson’s birthday is this week. He turns four. And last night I drove to an outlet mall where I knew I could find something in the way of a gift. Not toys. The kid already has so many he could open his own store.

After trying to figure out the directory with the “You Are Here” arrow, and challenging my spacial-relations skills beyond their capacity, I found the row of children’s stores lined up like turrets: Carter’s, Osh Kosh, Gap, Gymboree. I first browsed Gymboree.

The manager smiled when I walked in the door and asked how she could help me. A tall, 30ish woman, Shelby had hair piled on top of her head and clear, kind eyes that connected with mine.

I told her I was shopping for my grandson and she immediately came out from behind the counter. “What sort of things are you looking for?” she asked. 

I can’t remember the last time a clerk came out from behind the counter without my first having to plead for their assistance.  I had her full attention.  I explained that my grandson gets dirty. “They live in the mountains,” I said.

She put back the white pants she’d removed from a rack. 

The months will be getting warmer, I said. So maybe something short-sleeved? How about pants and a shirt – size five?   

Shelby made suggestions. Not pushing, just offering possibilities. She rummaged through stacks of folded shirts, searching labels for size fives; and when I changed my mind, she didn’t grit her teeth. I’ve seen that look before. The one sales people flash before disappearing back behind the counter. 

When I had narrowed down the entire boys section to a few basic styles and colors, she arranged mix and match outfits on the counter.

I can’t remember the last time anyone did that. Maybe never.   

I ended up choosing a pair of shorts covered with camouflage-print dinosaurs. My grandson will think they’re great. And a three-button shirt with a fierce T-Rex clawing up one side of the burnt-orange knit. 

Shelby told me the company makes their clothing so that kids won’t be irritated by the designs. “Feel underneath,” she said.

I slid my hand inside the shirt.  Sure enough, no plastic under T-Rex; only smooth cotton.

My seventeen-month-old granddaughter, the “un-birthday” child, will want to open something too, I thought; but decided to patronize one of the other shops for her gift.

After a quick tour of the remaining stores, I went back to Gymboree. Their customer service put the other stores to shame. The “50% Off” signs didn’t hurt either.

I browsed the clearance stuff and found some cute things, among them a pair of lime green fleece pants and a white cotton top with the words, “Snow Sweet” appliquéd in matching colors across the front. I know, I know. White isn’t very practical. 

Maybe it has something to do with the apron I made in seventh grade home-ec class, but I have an eye for flaws. And just as I was about to check out, a few brown specks on the lime green pants jumped up and screamed, “Hey! Lookie here!”

Shelby ducked into the back room and seconds later emerged with another pair. “I brought you fresh merchandise,” she said. “These are right out of the plastic. You’re the first one to lay hands on them.”

How could things get any better? I swiped my debit card and she asked if I wanted a gift receipt. I wouldn’t have thought of that. She highlighted the company’s website on my copy. “If you go online and fill out the survey,” she said, “you’ll be entered in a drawing to win $500 worth of merchandise.” 

That got my attention. And even though I’d sworn off working past ten, when I got home I put on my pajamas, made a cup of tea, and fired up my laptop.

Most of the questions asked me to rate the store and clothing on a scale of 1-10. But two of the questions required written responses– one about why I chose that store, and the other describing my shopping experience.

This morning, when my head was clear enough to think, I wondered why I had gone to the trouble of making sure my spelling, grammar, sentence structure – everything – was perfect on that stupid survey. Whoever reads these things on the other end probably doesn’t give a flip. They probably wouldn’t know the difference between a semi-colon and a comma,  I said to my husband at breakfast. 

“Why not?” he said. “Shouldn’t we have those expectations of everyone all the time?” 

He’s right. In the devolution of written expression, we’ve come to have few expectations. And I realized that I had few expectations of customer service, as well. That’s why last night’s experience came as such a shock.  Usually when I can’t find an item, the sales person (if there even is one) says, “If it’s not on the shelf, we don’t have it.” They don’t even lift a finger to find out.

But Shelby restored my faith. And as I wrote those two paragraphs before falling into bed, I made sure I told them. Whoever reads it will find a glowing report, along with perfect punctuation and spelling – because some things in life are worth caring about. FFG

Hungry Mom Kitchen Makes Gluten-Free Quinoa Waffles

Today I made my third batch of these high-octane Gluten-Free Quinoa Waffles and all I can say is, “Yum!”

Did you know that quinoa (pronounced (KEEN-wah) is not a grain? It’s a seed in the same family as spinach. The website www.cookingquinoa.net classifies quinoa as a “pseudo-grain” or “pseudo cereal.”

How good is it for you? Very. According to www.cookingquinoa.net, “Quinoa is a complete protein source which delivers our bodies an almost perfect cocktail of amino acids.”

In addition, it’s low-fat and gluten-free. And quinoa can be used in so many ways.  I love it in a “mediterranean” salad with lucious greens, tomatoes, feta, and olives.

It’s also wonderful in a simple soup of chicken broth, diced vegies and cubed tofu. I like to add some fresh grated ginger and a dash of Bragg. Mmm. It’s so warm and balancing.

Gluten-Free Quinoa Waffles are golden and crispy on the outside, warm and tender inside. They’re comfort food that’s good for you. The quinoa disappears into the batter, but turns up in taste, giving the waffles a slightly nutty flavor. 

My waffle maker is an old GE model with four settings: Low, Med, Waffle and  High. I aways set the temp between the last two, and then cook for a while after it says they’re supposed to be done. I like ’em nice and crispy!

Gluten-Free Quinoa Waffles (yield: 8 waffles)

Cook 1/2 C dry quinoa in 1 C boiling water. No water should remain. Allow to cool while mixing up the rest of the ingredients.

Mix together in large bowl:

1/2 C cooked quinoa

1 egg

2 Tbs. turbinado sugar (or less)

1/4 C oil (extra virgin olive oil works just fine.)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

In another mixing bowl combine:

1/2 C brown rice flour

1/4 C coconut flour

1/4 C sorghum flour

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

3 tsp. baking powder

Stir dry ingredients into wet, alternating with:

1 1/2 C milk (I use soy, but try other kinds if you wish.) 

The batter will thicken quite a bit. Add a bit more milk if you like.

Spray non-stick oil onto your waffle maker if needed.

Ladle batter into your waffle grids and cook until crispy.

We use yogurt as a topping, or butter and honey. Whatever your heart desires. If there are any left over (fat chance!), I stick them in the freezer.  Enjoy! FFG