So, I want to share the best parenting advice I’ve ever been given. Forgive me for being a hypocrite. I don’t like when people give me unsolicited parenting advice. Who does, really? Let’s face it, usually when someone gives parenting advice there is some small strain of superiority involved. However, there are some people I listen to because a) they know their stuff and b) they aren’t a smug know-it-all. In this case, my friend J is a Montessori school teacher and most certainly not a smug know-it-all. She gave me this advice, and it’s been pretty helpful. Here it is:
Tell your kid what to do, not what not to do.
Wut? You know, when your kid is kicking you and you yell “STOP THAT!” and they just keep. on. kicking. Well, I still say “STOP THAT!” (because, human nature) when Little Dude is kicking the crap out of me, but then I follow up with:
“What do we do with our feet? What do we do with our legs? We jump! We walk! We run! But we don’t kick! Tell me, what do we do with our feet?”
And then he usually chimes in with his own list of things that he should do with his feet and is so distracted trying to think of things he stops kicking.
Another example is when Little Dude is drawing on, say, the dog. So I say, “Hey! We draw on the easel! We draw on paper! Let’s go back to the easel!”
At first, I thought this was utter crap.
It didn’t work the first few times. Then one day, Little Dude, dear sweet boy that he is, was kicking the dog. So I said “Stop that, please! What do we…” and before I could finish he said “We jump! We run!” and he ran to get his toy from the other room. Whoa.
Do you know what all of your electronic stuff does?
I’m asking because I figured out why J’s advice works. It works because your kid, my kid, they’re like what, 2 or 3 years old? Newsflash – they’re working with new equipment. And what happens when you get new equipment? It takes time to learn all the bells and whistles. It takes time to learn when to use the features in the right place at the right time. Like when your friend gets an iPhone and insists on Facetiming you when they’re in a public place. (Most times, inappropriate. Do not do. We Facetime from home or private places!) It takes time to learn about new equipment…whether it’s your smart tv, your iPhone, or those new arms and legs that you just recently learned how to control. Kids need to hear what to do with all that stuff, not just what not to do.
Disclaimer: It doesn’t always work.
Mostly, I’ve had positive success with this advice. But, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, kids don’t always do what we want them to do. So, yeah, it doesn’t always work. When it doesn’t work, I usually say something like, “Since you don’t want to use the markers on the easel or paper, I’m going to put them over on the easel for now, and we can do something else for a while.” While the now-blue dog looks at me thankfully. Little Dude is starting to get that he should probably do what you’re supposed to do or we have to move on to a new activity or we have to stop for a time-in. As he’s getting older, he’s getting it.
What has been the best parenting advice you’ve been given?