How do I Parent My Child?
Your child has now reached the age where he/she is speaking and then the much talked about tantrum age. Where do you go from here?
First, we turn to our own parents. What was their secret for raising you? Most parents can't exactly explain how they did it, or may even say "Oh, you were a good child" or "It wasn't hard". My own mother's response was "You need a routine". Sigh...
There are many books on the subject and I, for one, was so overwhelmed with having my first child that I didn't research the subject. I tried the basic approach of setting a routine and being firm with my child. I turned to friends and family for advice and got through the first five years of my son's life thinking that I was doing fine.
Not so, according to my son's kindergarten teacher. She stated that my son was "like a robot". Apparently I didn't realize that I was telling my son what to do for every single step...
"Put away your toys."
"Time to clean up."
"Brush your teeth."
"Time to get ready for bed."
After I got a swift kick in the butt, I started thinking on how I could change it around. Apparently, children can take on responsibilities (without reminders from their parents) from preschool age, or even younger. To start, I made a list for my son of the what needs to be done from the time he came home from school until bedtime.
1. Put away your shoes
2. Take a bath
3. Do your homework
4. Eat dinner
6. Brush your teeth
7. Go to bed 9:00 pm (Yes, he had a late bedtime!)
Upon review of my list, it seems silly that it is spelled out so explicitly. I also drew pictures next to each item as he didn't know how to read yet. The first couple of weeks were difficult. Each time he finished one item, I had to redirect him to the list to look at what was next. Soon after, though, he began to look at the list himself to see what needed to be done next. And within a month, he didn't need to look at the list at all.
It's amazing how something simple can make such a huge difference. I could concentrate better on other things to do and most of all the STRESS LEVEL went WAY DOWN.
In hindsight, I wish that I had done reading on parenting a child instead of relying only on my instincts and other people's opinion. If I had taken a more well rounded approach, I believe that the beginning five years of my son's life would have been easier for me.