Discipline, Talking and an Afterschool Special

In the spirit of school starting, I think this post’s lesson should be about parenting.  I’ve seen some discussion lately about parents and the different ways that they discipline, or don’t discipline their children.   My favorite being the following:

http://rockonmommies.com/paris-hilton-was-an-undisciplined-child/

As our kids grow up, we really hope that we’ve done right by them and they won’t end up some sad story on the nightly news.  It is hard to decide if the actions we take when they misbehave are going to be beneficial in the long run.  It’s essential to be able to say no to your kids.  So I would like to follow up on the above video with the next step after discipline.  Sometimes,  it is the actions we take after the scoldings or punishments that are what create the foundation for a solid future.

Part of being a parent is talking to your kids.  They aren’t just a small person that wanders around the house attempting to break one of your rules.  You brought that child into this world to love, support and one day send off to live his own life.  Unless your intention was to provide a nanny with a job, I think maybe some interaction is required on your part. 

I am under the impression that many of the problems kids face could be solved with some genuine conversation with family.  Let’s be real here.  I’m not talking “afterschool special” conversation.  You don’t have to get out the milk and cookies and a reference book.  All I am saying is show your kids that you do care about what is on their minds and talking about it shouldn’t be an uncomfortable situation. 

I have always been very open with my son, who is now 10, about many topics.  Example 1, two girls in the neighborhood keep pushing him off his scooter and then when they get it, they don’t give it back.  He’s afraid to do anything because he doesn’t want to push a girl.  Ok, so I don’t have the perfect answer for this.  But, we talked it out.  We tried to figure out some options.  Point being, he felt a little better afterwards.  Example 2, for years there has be a certain nearby store that we pass that is for, ahem, adults only.  For ten years my son has never noticed this store…until there were protesters outside with signs that say “Pornography Hurts Our Children”.  How ironic.  So, as I am driving by praying he didn’t see them, he asks “Mom, what is pornogra..what does that say?”

*facepalm*

Ok, sometimes we are gonna have conversations we don’t want to have.  If you can put on a brave face and an even tone, you can show your kids that they can come to mom or dad with anything without feeling embarrassed.  That’s the real lesson here.  Just asking how they feel once in a while can be beneficial.  School is approaching.  Ask if they are nervous, excited or scared.  Let them tell you what they think and give them advice if they are unsure about starting school.  Get them to look at the big picture to show that even though things may be tough one day, other days will be better. 

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid?  Were you afraid to raise your hand to ask a question in class?  Did you feel confused in health class?  Did you loathe having to change in front of classmates in the locker room?  There are LOADS of embarrassing moments for us to choose from.  If we can remember those times, we can surely help our kids get through them knowing what we know now. 

Maybe we don’t have all the answers, but just being there to say “I understand” can mean more than you realize. 

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If Only He Knew

As school approaches and I ready my son for fifth grade, I think back to what life was like when I was in fifth grade.  The social realm really started to open up that year.  Liking boys and walking to the local Burger King with friends were top priority.  Cliques started to develop.  What you wore and how you looked started to be much more important than it ever had before.

I look my son and think, if only I could tell him.  His sweet, kind demeanor may be in for a shock this year.  I have already noticed the difference in the friends he hangs out with in the neighborhood.  We recently moved to a new home in January and he still feels a bit conflicted about which kids he wants to call friends.  It seems to me that he expects his “friends” to never say a bad word and be constantly knocking on the door for him to come out and play.  But, it doesn’t work that way, I tell him.

Sometimes they will say things to be hurtful.  Other days, you’ll be picked first to be on their football team.  I try to explain that so many friends will come and go over the years.  The best you can do is enjoy the fun and try not to take too much to heart.  Having a conversation with a 10 year old requires a short delivery if you want their full attention.  If only I could tell him all the great things I look back on now, and that I’ve forgotten the bad things. 

If only he knew all the things that I know now.  But then how would he ever learn it for himself?

For Kids Who Hate Their Teachers

Back when I was in high school, I had a teacher who was tough.  We all have had them.  They always seemed to pick on you when you didn’t have your hand raised.  They checked your homework first on what seemed like only the days you forgot to do it.  They grilled you on every test and quiz.  Well, mine was no different.

She was my Spanish teacher.  She was from Mexico and she was dead serious about teaching her students.  She had a glare that could cut like a high-powered laser.  I always felt like she had it out for me.  The funny thing was, I loved taking Spanish.  When the end of my junior year came, I decided not to take Spanish the next year to fit in an Accounting class.  Needless to say, the oral part of my final exam was delivered as questions as to why I was not taking Spanish the next year. 

As painful as those years with her were, and I did have her as a teacher more than once, Spanish stuck with me.  I used it when I got into a car accident with a family that did not speak English.  I used it at my job when we received correspondence in Spanish.  My children know a bit of it, as well, due to my penchant to use it wherever I can. 

So, recently, I happened to run into this Spanish teacher at a local store.  It’s been 15 years since I have seen her.  When I stated my name, she smiled broadly and gave me a welcoming hug.  And I, too, was surprisingly thrilled to see her.  We chatted about our families and our lives for almost a half hour in the store that day.  I walked away so happy that I was able to see her again and incredibly stunned at my own reaction to her. 

Then I realized the horrible truth.  Even in my stubborn and slightly rebellious attitude as a teenager, I truly appreciated the fact that she pushed me in her class.  I was glad to have someone constantly making sure that I was learning the material and who cared about my success.  And today, I am still glad that I had a teacher like her who made me enjoy learning a language so much that I still try to use it as much as I can, even without a professional need to do so. 

So, for all those kids out there that have this type of teacher, try and ease up on them.  It really is a wonderful thing to have a teacher who cares.  And it kills me to say this, but when your parents give you that eternally annoying phrase, “you’ll understand when you’re older”…you really will.