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5 Tips: Teaching Helps Parenting

By Lily Iatridis  January 1, 2001

BLOG- Mom working with little kidsHaving been a teacher ten years before becoming a parent, I think I was more easygoing than most first time mothers. There's nothing like managing dozens of different personality types to shed a light on how to view a single child. First and foremost, I didn't get stressed about my children's eccentric behaviors because I knew already that they're all a little eccentric. That's what makes them so interesting and fun to be with.
 

Even so, those first few years of teaching were a real struggle. For some mysterious reason, my students wouldn’t do exactly what I wanted them to do. I just couldn’t figure out why! Everything was hard all the time until I finally realized that I didn’t understand the nature of kids. Kids need to be allowed to be kids. They're curious, energetic, fidgety playful little human beings who aren't meant to sit in a desk all day long. Kids need clear structure and instruction to feel secure. But within that structure, they need to be free to express themselves and be themselves. Giving kids choices and opportunities to be creative always got them where I wanted them educationally with a lot less resistance and a lot more fun for everyone.
 

Negative assumptions and judgements about your children or students are a self-fulfilling prophecy. When they're young, they look to the adults around them to tell them who they are, and they internalize it for life. If you’re angry at something they did, make sure to express it toward the action they took, not at them as a whole person. For example, you could say, “I’m really angry at the way you didn’t clean the dog poop up off the floor when I asked.” Far too often I've heard parents saying things to their kids like, "Don't be a dumb-dumb," or "Don't be a 'wuss.'" In essence, those adults are telling their kids that's how they see them. Instead, a parent could tell a child the good person that they see in them and build a discussion on misbehavior around that. In the classroom I learned over and over that my students usually did exactly what I truly expected them to do.
 

Make sure you know where you stand when you take your stand. A ten minute time out in your child's room where they can play quietly with toys has a lot more impact than an empty threat to take away their Xbox forever. As a classroom teacher, I regularly overheard conversations amongst the children about different teachers' class rules, which ones the teachers enforced, and which ones the kids could ignore. Kids are smart, and they carefully observe the adults in their lives. Save yourself a lot of frustration, and do your best to avoid making threats you aren't going to follow through on.
 

Is it really in their best interests? Whenever in doubt about a course of action to take, ask yourself that question. That's usually an easy “yes” or “no” answer, so keep on asking yourself that until you find the right path to take with your child.


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