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  Pointers For Parents

from Christine Maestri

May

1. I don’t want to sound like Martha Stewart, but here’s an idea that may prove useful to you. When one is considering how to improve storage in a bedroom, consider a 4-drawer file cabinet. They store more than dressers, the metal can work as a magnet board, and the drawers are easy to open and close with one hand.

I use file cabinets instead of a dresser. I can fold jeans in half and stack 9 pair in a drawer and still have room for stuff in the back. A file cabinet could even be a great toy chest … 4 stackable chests! And they won’t fall over. So watch for a sale on file cabinets or look at garage sales, and see how they help organize a room for you. Now that I think about it, a file cabinet would make an excellent linen closet. I could imagine a wall of file cabinets; the possibilities for organizing would be endless.

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.” Lin Yutang

2. Responsibility is one of those wonderful words that inspire a parent. How does one develop responsibility in a child? A simple and fun way is to collect litter. One is teaching a child how to be responsible for the land that they live on. Spring time after the snow melts is an appropriate time for this ‘spring cleaning’ of the earth.

Use a long stick to poke or pick up items. This can be the sword or wand of spring cleaning and it’s fun to balance a pop can on a stick or poke a piece of paper and bring these items to the litter bag. This also keeps hands relatively clean and we don’t want our children actually handling garbage. So far we have been able to pick up everything with a stick. Estimate the amount of litter – for a small amount bring a grocery bag, for a larger amount, pull a wagon or garden cart with a large black plastic garbage bag in it.

Keep track of what you are collecting. This helps your children learn what items are made from. Aluminum, paper, steel, glass and plastic are the typical base elements of most litter. One might also want to discuss where those materials came from … the earth (aluminum & steel), petroleum by products (plastic), trees (paper), sand (glass).

Whenever someone puts a piece of litter in the litterbag, I say to the child, “the earth says “thank you’.” Children always smile at this sentiment and appreciate the thank you. After all, mother earth is polite and grateful for our efforts. Younger children might not understand why we are doing this. So I ask them – does the earth have hands? Can she pick up the litter? Well, we have to help her. And this explanation always brings an enthusiastic response.

There are two obvious areas for litter collecting, first the area right around one’s house, and secondly one glaring area that one sees on one’s daily travels – near the grocery store, along a side road. We have adopted a side road that we keep clean all year. We thought it appropriate to make a sign and hang it on a tree on the road. The sign reads “keep mother earth clean.’ The children love reading the sign when we hike along the clean pristine country lane and often say ‘this is the road we keep clean.”

Collecting litter is basically a family hike. Last week we were fortunate to see a pair of eagles circling in the sky, find the first pussy willows, get our first spring feel of soft green moss, check on the clay vein in the hill to see if it was still there, find a variety of lovely stones to tuck in our pockets, admire our reflection in puddles, listen to the choir of spring birds and try to identify some of their calls. What a nice way to learn responsibility.

3. “Be gentle” is an excellent guideline for children. It is a simple rule to give to a child to guide their behavior. Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with your friends, and be gentle with things. This is practical advice. It covers just about every situation, and when used regularly is a type of affirmation for parents and children alike. I often use a hand sign with it as some children respond better to signals than words. I stretch out one hand and gently sweep my other hand across it a few times, as if one is gently petting an animal. I have used this for a long time, and it is effective.

For instance: When a child is screaming in a tantrum “Tom, be gentle with your self.” When a child is about to throw something “Ann, be gentle with your book”. When a tug of war is about to start “Andrew, be gentle with your friend”.

4. We are reading poems at our school and we came across a wonderful poem. We use it regularly when a child does not know what to do, and when one of us recites it, it always brings a smile.

Boredom

I can’t blow bubbles,
I haven’t any pipe.
I can’t eat apples,
They haven’t turned ripe.
If I sit quiet for a time or two,
Will the Fairy Queen come to tell me what to do?
By Mildred Bowers Armstrong


I think it’s important for children to learn that they are self-reliant. They can look within and find an answer to a question or a project to do. The poem is easy enough to memorize, and it’s so rewarding to watch a child stop and wait and all of a sudden a smile comes across their face and they have thought of something to do. It’s also the beginning of the simplest form of meditation and is a valuable tool for all children to have and develop.

6. When we discipline our children, we are actually teaching our children 'this is the way to solve a conflict'. So in this light, what do we want to teach our children? If we want to show children that there is a peaceful way to resolve difficulties, then discuss situations and resolve them with a peaceful feeling. We are saying to our children...... Peace works. Now that's sounds great, but how do we make peace work in our family?

First, consider how many times in a day you compliment and how many times you correct your child. How many times did you say to your child: "thank you," "this is helpful," "your gentle voice is so soothing"? Count the number of times you complimented your child today. Now how many times have you corrected your child today? If one could graph it, as the number of compliments go up, the number of corrections go down. The compliments have to be sincere and accurate.

When my husband and I were working with disturbed teenagers, one boy was a challenge to this philosophy. The only compliment we could honestly say is "Gee, you breathe so well." He was stunned. He obviously was committed to non-compliance which meant correction. And here we had found something he was doing 'right' among all those 'wrongs' he was pursuing. It took awhile, but we began to find more honest compliments. It was working. (Remember: the word discipline is derived from the word 'disciplina' - to instruct.)

Link to June



Teaching Values: Uses accelerated learning methods and storytelling. Recommended lists of children's books and videos.


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