Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Parenting 101

I've known all along- there isn't a manual. No directions on how to raise a child, no sure-fire way to ensure that your child is well mannered, self motivated and kind. As a teacher, I've come across a number of children whose parents I wish I could sit down, pen and paper in hand, and ask, "OK, so WHAT did you do to raise such an awesome kid?" I've also come across those kids who, when June 23 hit, I wasn't all that sad to say goodbye to.....As two teachers, Russ and I are firm believers in structure, routines and boundaries. Ten years of teaching experience, and countless years of working with children in other capacities, has taught me that kids NEED those things. It's just a matter of figuring out how to give them those things.

Since there is no manual, you have to use the sense that God gave you, the advice from family and friends, your own recollections of how you were raised and just muddle through, praying all the while that you are doing an OK job.

Aliza is just on the verge of that age where the tantrums are starting. We are seeing little glimpses, here and there, of what's in store for us. Overall she's an awesome child. Loving and sweet with a fantastic sense of humor and a love for singing, dancing and drawing. She doesn't watch T.V. for more than a second or two, she loves to read and be read to and, best of all, she loves to hang out with her Mommy and Daddy. I mean, I'm one seriously blessed mom.

She is, at times, becoming awfully opinionated about what she wants, even if she can't even communicate it. And, being 1 1/2 she wants it Right Now. The other day is a prime usual I was cooking dinner. Also as usual, Aliza decided she wanted to be in the kitchen with me. And by decided, I mean she was standing at the gate to the kitchen, rattling the bars and crying loudly. We finally allowed her into the kitchen, hoping she'd head over to "her" cabinet (that contains only Tupperware) or the fridge phonics, or the pad of paper that she loves to grab and then write all such luck. She came straight to me, clung to my legs, looked up at me and said "Mom-mom, UP!" When I couldn't pick her up immediately (sharp knife, hot oil, frying garlic....bad combo) she insisted more loudly and literally clung to my legs as I attempted to walk around the kitchen cooking. Now, thinking about it, it's a rather funny mental image, but in the moment it wasn't so funny.

Her new thing lately is to throw her food off her highchair. She used to do this in the past, but stopped for quite some time. Now, when she's done eating, or if she just feels like it, she picks up her pieces of food and chucks it right over the edge of her chair. Actually, she doesn't discriminate, she'll throw her fork, spoon, cup, plate....all right over the edge and onto the floor. Russ and I went through several ways of dealing with this. First to say no, of course. Then to remove all food from her tray. Then to make her pick everything up at the end of the meal. Finally, we have decided to try something new. Now, the second she throws something over the edge of her high chair we stop everything, take her out of her high chair, make her pick it up and give it to us and then put her back in her high chair to continue eating. This felt like an appropriate, natural consequence to us.
Last night we did this three separate times.

The thing is, who knows if this is the right move.....we certainly don't. What we do know is that Aliza has to learn not to throw her food on the floor. What we also know is that she doesn't do this elsewhere--like day care, or at restaurants. We also know that both of us were getting tired of picking up the floor every night after dinner. So, we're attempting to stay consistent, even if it is annoying to take her in and out of her chair several times, and we are hoping she gets the message.
Sooner rather than later.


Dianna said...

No rules, no manual, yet all kids seem to put parents in the same situations! We "fixed" this with Mason by putting him at the table with us! We got a booster seat so he could sit at the table or island with us and got rid of the high chair (for the most part) and it seemed to help! He still tosses things on the floor from time to time, but usually when he is all done and wants out of the chair. At that point I say ok then dinner is finished! And he is ok with that! Good luck and remember your consistency will pay off and this too shall pass!

Keetha said...

I have to say that I don't miss those days. Your post brought them back quite vividly!

I think we tried something similar. The Child was and is stubborn.

Wow, I'm so not helping. :-)

Kelli said...

No manual, but I do love reading posts like these. I mentally tuck them back in my brain to draw upon SOMEDAY when I have babies of my own.

(Also word verification is sales. It's like the computer is FORCING me to go out and search for post holiday sales or something!)

Kelli said...


My first sentence was supposed to read "There's no manual."


Mem said...

--I was always told--
A child's job is to test all of the boundaries- every day. A parent's job is to be strong enough have them there-- consistently.
Sent with love...Mem

Cindy Close said...

Yes, I agree. All kids will test and they will do this over and over,to see if you really meant it! But you must be strong and consistent. I know easier said than done at times. It will pay off in the long run.
It seems like you and Russ are doing an amazing job.

Kara said...

I just came across your blog and my little guy is almost 13 months and is doing this - we tried as well several different methods consistently and man it's just hard. Keep going with consistency!

Anonymous said...

Aliza is just being a child. She's doing exactly what she's supposed to be doing.

You have good values and common sense. You'll be fine. So will Aliza.

Love, Dad