Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Teach Your Children Well, good ideas

I present to you, an advice dump based on a less-than-stellar reading of Teach Your Children Well {with some of my thoughts}:
  • "One of the quickest ways to discourage a child's budding interest is to take it out of the realm of play and turn it into one more organized activity." {I struggle with this, because I want to expose the girls to opportunities. But I think unstructured play is really important. I think finding classes that are largely exploratory is a good compromise. Also, being too lazy to enroll your kids in classes in your new neighborhood is another option.}
  • "Highlight consequences and back off when our kids understand the effect of their actions on outcomes. On occasion this means holding our tongue (and our breath) when our children make bad choices." {the bad choices and their consequences in the toddler years are generally pretty minor compared to the teen years, but it is still SO HARD to not shadow them and say, slow down! be careful! watch your step! But I'm trying to fight these urges (they know what happens when they fall, it hurts) to get practice trusting them and the process. I'm also trying to be more explicit about why things are a bad idea, e.g., friends won't want to play with you if you push them. And never saying, "because I said so!" At the same time, you  have to be careful because toddler's verbal processing skills are not like ours and speaking in negatives requires them to double process in order to know what they should do. SO MUCH ADVICE! right?!}
  • "We help our kids cultivate healthy self-esteem when we encourage them to set meaningful goals and then to work toward them with effort and perseverance." {in other words, not by smothering them with praise; especially outcome-based praise, instead of effort-based praise. But make their goals explicit and celebrate the work they do to reach them.}
  • "We need to help them learn that they can tolerate discomfort, that it helps to be distracted or to switch focus, and that delayed gratification often brings greater rewards than does impulsivity." and "Do remember that entitlement kills enthusiasm." {my brother's girlfriend is a behavioral therapist for kids with special needs. This sentence reminds me of something really interesting she told me about how learning happens during extinction (i.e., when we remove the crutch that had been relied upon. think, sleep training. graduated extinction is when you remove the crutch of you in the baby's sleep process.) In other words, it is the frustrated delay between when we want something and when we get it. That space gives us the motivation (enthusiasm) to learn/try/do something new. It is important to keep that distress manageable and to enable/teach/support the kids to succeed, or else we're just being jerks (see next bullet). But it is important to remind yourself, when you are hating how much your kid is hating something, that this is where the growth happens.}
  • "Make sure that the work your child is expected to do is reasonable. If the task is overwhelming, and no amount of effort will make it doable for your child, then the benefit of expending effort will be lost. Too many kids end up in tears several hours into homework that is totally overwhelming in either or content or amount. Talk to your child's school if the amount of homework your child is given seems out of line Guidelines are ten minutes per grade in elementary school, about an hour in middle school, and not more than about two to two and a half hours in high school." {DO IT. Stand up to your school's policies. Easy for me to say, as my kids get no homework. But as a former educator, I still stand behind this. Homework is important, but assigning ridiculous amounts is not good for kids and not okay for educators.} update: this article says that advice has no grounding in research
  • "Too often we confuse compliance and self-control. While compliance is the precursor to self-control, it is not the same thing. Compliance is about following someone else's rules. Self-control is about developing fortifying, and internalizing your own rules." {this is something I'm hugely obsessed with. How to get from a to b, because if you stay in compliance, you are in a dangerous and sort of useless place. I think this goes back to the "why" (second bullet). I got a reader recommendation: Kids Are Worth It! : Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline and I've put it on my list of books to read for this reason!} UPDATE: More on this topic here
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