Sunday, April 9, 2006

Daycare Lessons

i am not in the writing mood. i don't know what to write. and i can't even see the screen clearly because i moved my room around in the winter and did not foresee the terrible glare from the window on the computer screen. woah is me.

but not really.

i am officially finished with daycare. who knows if i'll ever do it again. who knows if i'll ever even have children... well, not cause the daycare turned me off them... just who knows. cause you know... who knows. if anything, the daycare experience showed me that i owe it to the world to have kids. cause i think i would do it well. here is what i've learned. or already know and just feel more forcefully about:

1. children should not be indulged. they are like fruit and this is why we call it spoiled. but spoiling a kid is not just giving it lots of toys. it's not just the big things. it's every day stuff, like always giving them five more minutes or promising things in exchange for doing mundane things, like sleeping and eating. children who are indulged will constantly seek indulgement. they have no limits because you have not set them, and they will constantly push the limits that they themselves are making. you may think you are manipulating the kid so it will do what you want. but really, it is manipulating you. children who are not indulged do not seek indulgement.

2. there is a difference between indulgement and attention. and there is a difference between good attention and bad attention. the problem with the worlds children right now is that they don't get enough good attention and so they are forced to look for bad attention and the parents get sucked right in. tantrums do not need hugging and talking and yelling in return. they need nothing. if you are in a public place, the child should be removed from the environment and then just left to it's own devices in a car or some other place. there's no need to stare at them or talk to them. just sit with your back to them and read a book or something. they will learn that tantrums don't get them anywhere, and it won't be a problem for long. this also works for sleeply time tantrums. if you keep you stay in the room but don't acknowldge the child at all and let them cry, stopping only to put the child back in bed if he/she gets out. this is a painful experience if you have taught your child endurance in provoking negative attention by giving in to these types at antics. but if you have not, this behavious will not last long because the tantrum itself tires the child out. they will learn quickly to go to bed without making a fuss. (incidentally, i tried this with one of the kids at the camp. just stood at the door with my back to him, waiting for him to sleep. every day after that, if he was supposed to be napping and i went in to see him and he was awake, he would instantly lie down and pretend like he was sleeping).

3. good attention is a whole nother animal. and if you do it right, you won't have to even worry about giving in to the negative attention tactics. praise your child. every crappy little piece of art. every time they point to the square and say square (or that sound that you know to mean square but really sounds like 'ta' or some other sound). every time they learn a new behaviour. do not go the route of giving presents or other rewards as praise. there is a little thing i learned in my psych education: if a child likes going to school and performs well, and you give the child a small reward every time it goes to school and performs well, eventually the child will come to believe that he/she does not actually like school, but only likes the reward. and essentially you have turned the child off something it loved. it's called intrinsic motivation.

4. the best response for a boo-boo is a soothing 'it's ok'. no sudden movements or loud noises or wailing 'oh my god are you ok?'. i assume that you can all tell the difference between a serious injury and a non-serious injury (though i do admit that little things falling over always looks more serious because the little things look so breakable... they are not as breakable as all that by the time they are moving around). If it is serious, you and the child will know. panic on your poart will only worsen the situation and turn said child into an attention seeking drama queen. a child must learn to fall. and you must learn to let them. it will happen. again and again and again and again. it's no big deal. some of the kids at the daycare were totally cool about falling and others would make a huge deal every time they so mouch as grazed an edge of furniture. you tell me what kind of kid you want. i assure you i already know the answer.

5. blankies are... well. from what i can tell. universal. and simple. and handy. i'm sure it has something to do with smell and such. so if you are going to leave a kid at a daycare or some other environment that is not home, best to have an extra blanky that the child is comfortable with and has been around the house for a while so that it smells like mom and dad and home (maybe the parents could sleep with it)

6. foam = the best. foam puzzles, foam toys, foam books... easily washable and awesome for chewing which is what kids do most at young ages. with all other things being undeveloped, their mouths are the prime source of discovery.

7. kids <3 fruit... just keep on feeding it to them so they continue to like it throughout their lives. feed them well from the start, because you alone determine what your child will like to eat. don't give into picky eating (my mom did, and it took me 21 years to even attempt to eat a mushroom. or a peach. or a strawberry... i had to rediscover food in my twenties. which is hard to do because you are so scared of trying it.) anyway, don't feed them junk. pop was not made for kids. foods high in sugar, which of course are marketed towards kids, are not in fact for kids. you will thank me for this later. cause it may be easy to get a kid to eat sweets, but then you will have to deal with the sugar high. and of course, a diet consisting of bad food is responsible for many childhood problems, including ad(h)d, and obesity. kids are getting unhealthier all the time. don't help the trend.

8. TV is an easy option... for robots. the most depressing thing about the daycare was watching the kids respond to the television. they were mesmerized. it didn't matter what was on or if they were only able to watch for twenty-five seconds. they simply CAN'T tear themselves away. it's disgusting. my kids will not watch tv. there are so many other ways to spend the time.

9. multiple languages. if you can, get your kid into as many as possible. they may start to say words slower because they have so many words for one object, but their cognitive abilites in many regards will be strengthened. and all the research in this area shows that the child, in time, can sort them out easily and is fluent in all languages presented to it before the critical period. there is no way to really overload a child, i don't think. again, my psych background tells me that every child is born knowing and being able to distinguish every different language sound that can be found all over the whole entire globe. this is amazing because as you grow older, you lose that ability and can only distinguish the sounds of the language you have grown up with. so all those little clicks in hindi that sound the same to all of us. well, a teeny tiny child, not long in this world knows em all. they can hear them all. trouble is just keeping that ability up. and it turns out it is not much trouble at all, if you are able to have your kid spend regular time with someone who speaks only that language to them. i believe the best way to do it is to have a language per person, so that they are able to keep some order of it. mommy speaks french, daddy speaks english. i don't know what else. many languages is ideal. but i guess it's not always realistic.

10. music. music. music. music. my kids will listen to music always. and all different kinds. every different kind. they will also have so many instruments at their disposal. i will not force them to play. because forcing a child takes the fun out of it (which is the reason why i stopped playing the piano and highly regret that now. they took the fun out of it for me. i could have been a wild musician.... but alas. i settle for mediocrity now). anyway, i will let them choose what they want to do. provide hella options (and this goes for sports, too and other hobbies). give the child options, and let them choose.

11. don't let your own ideas of success and failure blind you to the infinite possibilities of your child. unconditional love and support. this is the key. someone told me a joke yestereday:

how old are your children?
well, the doctor is three and the lawyer is five.

it's funny. disturbing funny. and very true. which is, i guess, what makes it disturbing. most parents want their kids to make a lot of money. if you raise your kid right, they won't be interested in money and material things. so they prolly won't be hard pressed to get into a high money-making industry. you should be proud of them. not unsupportive. you raise an artist and you, you lucky devil, have had a part in saving the world. because if any of you have been reading... art will save the world. trust me on this one, folks. it's something i know in my core.

12. patience. patience. patience. i love this word. it's beautiful. anyway, patience, is of course, imperative. i don't think any parent has to raise their voice. at least not on a regular basis. unless they are sticking their fingers in a socket or any other immediately dangerous situation when loud yelling will shock the child and force them to remember the lesson quickly (it's all pavlovian. ring a bell = salivate)... all animals are afraid of loud noises. so this works in dire straits. but other than that, you don't want your child to be afraid of you. plus, you'll be teaching them to yell. and you don't want a yelly kid. and don't whine to your children either. they will pick that up as well. stern voices. eye level. explanation. explanation. explanation. i did this big research project in child development about theory of mind (which is basically learning that other people have thoughts and feelings and being able to decipher those thoughts and feelings... so like an autistic child has major problems in this regard so you can see what having a fully developed TOM will do for a child). anyway, what i figured though i would have to experiment to know for sure, so take this with a grain of salt, is that the tasks which improved TOM abilities - and there are a bunch which seem totally unrelated - actually, all seem to require explanations. explicitly, in the form of because, or implicitly, which i believe a child will take in anyway. and all the ones that didn't cause improvement did not have explanations. i think i am right about it. i did tons of research and really got into that study. anyway, basically, it's like don't tell your kids 'don't do this' or 'do this'. always: 'don't do this because...' and so on. if there isn't a reason for you telling the kid to do something or not do something, then maybe you shouldn't be telling the kid to do it or not, because it may just be some petty thing that you are saying out of frustration. or if sometimes, the explanations aren't child appropriate, just make up something child appropriate. knowing there are explanations for everything will teach the child to search for explanations when something happens. which includes everything another person does. why did they do that? because they are sad... and so on. it will generalize to everthing. of course, this brings us to the dreaded why? stage. patience, my friends. patience. i think the worst why stages come from kids who aren't getting enough attention, and they aren't even listening to the answers. they just want you to talk to them. so if you get your kid to a healthy and creative and explorative why stage, then you have done good things.

13. just let it go. let life happen. and love your child. that's all anyone can ask. you can't control anything. you never could but at times it seems like you might be. and once you have children, the urge to control everything probably heightens. but the ability to control, i would think, dimishes. so be free

** disclaimer: i know nothing about kids. you have been warned. don't blame me if you take my advice and it blows up in your face. this is only my opinion. **

and i said i wasn't in a writing mood.


Blogger Lady Pepper said...

It's so ironic that you're writing this now. I just finished writing an extra credit paper for Human Motivation about parenting tips. Wish I had read this before!

Sunday, April 09, 2006 12:20:00 p.m.  

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