Archive for September, 2010

Proper Manners for Children

September 24, 2010

I wonder how many times I’ve thought to myself, ‘why doesn’t someone teach that child proper manners?’!!  And, how many times have I wondered about the role-modeling of celebrities and athletes?  Then, today, Judith Martin gives her answer to these questions that I’ll bet you’ve asked from time to time as well.  You know Ms. Martin as Miss Manners, and she’s pretty much right on target with her advice, in my opinion!  Here’s most of her piece as presented in today’s newspapers: (the underlining is mine – as I feel this is an essential piece of information.)

“Dear Miss Manners:  Please address the need to educate children in basic behavior, such as personal space, personal possessions and speaking on the phone.  It seems basic manners has been lost, and children are unaware of their responsibility to be polite.  Thank you from a concerned parent, grandparent, and great-grandparent.

“Gentle Reader:  You are referring to other people’s children, Miss Manners trusts.  As a great-grandparent, grandparent, and parent, you have put years into rearing generations to have not only basic manners, but underlying respect for the needs and dignity of others. Yes??

“She feels it necessary to verify this because of the demands that so often accompany parents’ outcries against mannerless children:  ‘Why doesn’t the school system teach proper behavior?’; ‘Why don’t movie stars, athletes and rock stars set examples of politeness?’; and, most frightening of all:  ‘Why doesn’t Miss Manners hold or recommend etiquette classes for children?’

“Because all these people have other jobs to do — yes, even Miss Manners, whose sacred mission it is to spread the noble practice of etiquette — and are not going to go around rearing other people’s children.

“Besides, it wouldn’t work. Childrearing requires daily devotion over a period of years; it cannot be outsourced and compacted into a course. Truly effective role models, whether of good behavior or bad, are not the children’s celebrity-heroes of the moment, but the people with whom they live.

“Miss Manners admires and appreciates the many teachers, public figures, entertainers, and others trying to provide such guidance for children who have been deprived of this by their parents.  She has dedicated herself to spreading the need, understanding and practice of etiquette, but would appreciate more help from those directly responsible.  So would their children, according to those who eventually try to catch up and complain to Miss Manners that their parents short-changed them.”

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Communication during meals

September 20, 2010

Today, I’d like to suggest that each parent set aside time each day for everyone to eat at least one meal together!  With busy schedules for dads and moms and children, as they grow older.  With busy times for everyone, this becomes a management issue!  However, as in many things, we all find times to do the things we want to do or that we know are important – too important to ignore.  (For example:  Parents who want to bowl with that league, will always find time to do that!)  And, then let me suggest that at one of those meals, preferable when there is no time pressure that the family group enter into a game or two to bring the children into a position where they’ll speak to the whole group and for just one moment, command the ‘center of attention’!  Here are two little activities we used with a good deal of success and you’ll find them interesting as well, I’ll betcha!

  1. True or Silly! Each person in turn will share one statement, a statement of fact or a statement that sounds as if it might be true.  Then the others at the table have to decide if the statement is ‘true’ or ‘silly’!  Trust me, kids will take great delight in ‘fooling’ everyone else, as our son did at one such dinner!  Jamie said with much confidence, ‘Dinosaurs eat rocks!’  We laughed and then discussed this seemingly silly statement.  And, then Jamie revealed that this was indeed true – many dinosaurs have the equivalent of a ‘crop’ like chickens have and this allows them to ‘digest by crushing’ food.
  2. Good news and Little upsets! I may have mentioned this before, but for those of you just joining us here this game is used especially when we have guest for a meal and they are asked to participate as well.  In turn, everyone will share what event was most upsetting in the last 24 hours and as he/she shares, all others must listen – no explaining, no excuses!  After that’s complete, every person will share the ‘good news’ – an event which brought special joy or happiness to him/her.  We found that many times the children would say, “I’ve got two!”  or “Can I share more than one?”.  The whole rest of the meal might be filled with sharing the ‘good news’!  Everyone wins!

Good luck with your communication around the table at mealtime!

Our Children are Watching Us!

September 13, 2010

Time now for one of the most obvious and maybe more difficult aspects of being a parent!  Directing your child’s behavior through easy times and tough times takes on an enjoyable air as we remember that we are the first – and maybe the most important – model for our children’s behavior! They live with us!  They watch us!  They listen to us!  Kids will imitate our behavior to the letter, and they will assume that the behavior they’re mimicking is an appropriate behavior!  (And, when they imitate an undesirable behavior, we need to realize that we may be the source for this behavior! Have you ever asked where your child learned that word?) If this previous thought seems to be accurate, we must be aware of what our children see in our behavior!  In general terms, children learn to be polite as they see how their parents respond to other people and as they hear what parents say about others.  Habits of cleanliness are easily modeled with a child who is very young and anxious to please – neatness can become difficult to teach if the children see messiness in every aspect of their lives.  And, even important traits like honestly, tact, patience, self-control, proper eating behaviors and manners at the table can be transmitted through the examples of parents and significant adults in the child’s life!

Are you ready for this?  Dorothy Law Nolte, PhD taught these lessons in a piece published in 1972 and these thoughts are as true today as they were then!

Children Learn What They Live

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Kids and Media!

September 9, 2010

So, you’ve taken time to establish a trusting relationship with your kids – they care for and respect you and you them!

And, we have learned over the years that: “Kids will defend and uphold any rule or policy that they had a hand in creating!”  Kids need to start early in cooperating with adults in establishing routines and policies to guide behavior!

And, with those thoughts in mind, let’s look today at the influence of media on our kids at various ages and how we can work ‘with’ them in setting up guidelines to enable kids to enjoy and learn from the media without its becoming essential to their lives to that in fact they see it as only ‘edu-tainment’ (more entertainment and less education).  From “Common Sense Media” we receive these suggestions for regulating and controlling the influence of media instead of letting the media determine the direction of our kids’ lives.  All of these suggestions are valuable, in my opinion, still you may want to discuss them with the kiddos to see what might be realistic for your family.

Parent tips for preschool kids!

* Put the tv in a central location.  Keep tv’s out of kids’ bedrooms.

*  Choose media carefully.  Stick to high-quality non-commercial educational programs.

*  Schedule equal time.  Balance time in front of a screen with other playtime.

*  Plan media-free family activities.  Read books together, listen to music, walk, run, play.

Parent tips for elementary school kids!

* Limit daily screen time.  That means gaming and the computer, too.

*  Keep the computer in a central place.  Keep an eye on time and Web destinations.

*  See for yourself.  Check out online gaming and social sites for yourself so you know what they’re about.

*  Choose wisely.  Pick age-appropriate television and movies, and tv shows that are educational and fun.

*  Keep kids reading.  They’ll need it!

Parent tips for Middle School Kids!

* No multi-tasking during homework.  That means no listening to music, IM-ing, or texting at the same time.

*  Reading is really important.  Kids learn vocabulary best by reading, not with flashcards or online programs.

*  Set time limits. Limit online and console gaming time to weekends if possible, and limit tv time.

Easy to do?? No, this is not easy, but it’s something you’ll do to prepare your kids for what lies ahead of them and they will one day thank you for several things:  1) for caring enough to have rules and regulations, 2) for allowing them to have a voice in how they spend their time, 3) for encouraging self-control by having rules which will no longer be necessary as the child grows, 4) leading them to activities which will profit them physically, mentally, and psychologically.