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Parenting for the future of civilization...

Pointers For Parents

  Presented by Christine Maestri


These first two pointers should be printed each year.

1.   Children are often afraid of bees. And rightly so, as they sting. What I have found helpful is to remind the children that the bees are interested in nectar not them. And if a bee does come near, stand still, the bee is trying to figure out if this pretty, sweet, little child is a flower - oh, no it's a child and it will fly away. If you swing your hands at the bee, the bee will think you're trying to hit. So what will the bee do? sting! So stand still and let the bee smell you so it can decide if you're a flower or a child.

(Sometimes it's fun to do this in a silly voice and pretend to be the bee.) "Bzzz, hmmm, is this sweet little child a flower or a bee? Bzzzz, it's pretty like a flower. Bzzzz, it smells lovely like a flower. Bzzz, oh look at the arms and legs, nope, it's a child. Guess I'll have to fly away."

2..   How to help your child learn to ride a bike.
Be honest. Yes, you are going to fall. That’s okay. You’ll just fall a few times and then you’ll be a bike rider. Make sure those first times they wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, gloves and a helmet. (Falling is much easier to manage when it’s a bump instead of bleeding skin.)

Hold the seat of the bike, NEVER the child. The child will feel when you take your hand off their body and this often causes alarm.

Without pedaling, let the child sit on the bike with tiptoes just on the ground, and feel the balance they will need. Hold the seat and let them balance with their feet. Let go and let them balance, grab the seat to rebalance. Repeat this many times.

Have the child get off the bike, stand the bike up and let it fall. Ask them if anyone was pedaling? No. Can the bike balance if no one is pedaling? No. So how is the bike going to balance? By pedaling. So, what are you going to do? PEDAL!

Have them look ahead to where they are going. Pick out a landmark with them somewhere down the road that they can focus on. Keep reminding them to pedal and look at the landmark. Not at you, not at the dog, not at the…

Okay, NOW … and only now … are we ready to pedal. Now, it’s the old run along with the bike and give that bit of balance. Hold the seat so they can sense how it feels to ride a bike, and then let go for little bits. Talk to your child and stay behind their line of vision. Let your voice and not your person be the guide. That way when you let go of the seat, you can talk louder as they go away from you and they will still feel your support, your verbal support.

Once the child can ride, it’s essential to establish safety rules of biking.

3..   Having a sense of direction is something we learn. And an easy way to teach direction is to name things in your house with north, south, east or west. At our school we have the north closet, south window, west door and east yard. When I ask a child to get something from the north closet, it’s easy for them to understand that north is the direction of the closet. It gives a child a sense of reference and meaning to these abstract concepts. And in your weekly travels, have 4 familiar destinations represent the 4 directions. North to the water tower, south to Bear Rd., east to the sandbox, and west to the train tracks are our outdoor directions. Children learn by doing and this is a fun way of doing directions.

4..   How often do we hear from nurses, doctors and Grandma – remember to wash your hands before you eat. With our busy lives, so often we are in the drive thru or sharing a snack with a friend as we walk, and there is no opportunity to wash hands. I would like to recommend something that has helped me in situations like this … waterless soap. There should be a small bottle in every car, purse and backpack. It’s available in the grocery store in the soap section and is sometimes called ‘hand sanitizer.’ (Warning: Hand sanitizer made with organic natural ingredients is preferable to chemical sanitizer which may prove toxic.) Just squirt a dab on, rub until it’s gone from your hands, and your hands are clean. I know it’s always in the back of our minds that we should have clean hands before we eat. Whether one is on a hike, or a drive, or having a snack by the sandbox, this will do the job simply and quickly. It helps me not feel negligent about my children’s hygiene. I’m sure it will ease parents’ minds as well.

5..   Sweeping up can be a helpful child activity in the multitude of summer projects – lawn mowing, crumbs from under the table, etc. There are two components to successful sweeping – the right tools and a spot to sweep to. The tools for indoors are a hand broom & dustpan; for outdoors a push broom & dust pan.

The hand broom is easy to use, as it is small and matches up to the dustpan. The push broom is easy to push. If you are unable to find a child size push broom, go to the hardware store. The standard window washing broom can become a child’s push broom. Just cut down the handle and sand the end. An adult size hand broom will be adequate for a child, as they are usually modest in size.

The other helpful component is to have a place to push to. Otherwise, the sweeping becomes a random motion instead of a guided motion. If you’re outside, find a crack in the sidewalk or set a stick on the ground. Ask your child to please push the grass to that spot. If you’re inside, pick a certain tile on the floor or leg of a chair to mark a spot. And, of course, having a dustpan easily available for your child gives him the opportunity to successfully finish the job.
And don’t throw away that cut off piece of broom handle. It can be made into a pair of rhythm sticks. Cut the leftover piece in half. Paint or color it with crayons. Decorate with a few seashells, bells or buttons to add to the music and beauty as well.

Christine Maestri's monthly column has easy to implement ideas for gentle and effective parenting, and lots of fun projects that instruct.


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