Practice these caregiving principles with the kids in your sphere of influence.
Did you know…
Babies can hear three months before they are born?
80 percent of a child’s brain growth happens in the first three years?
On average, the ratio of reprimands, warnings or scolding to praise or encouragement is 12 to 1 for children in low-income families?
A major study showed that by age 2, less-advantaged children were six months behind the highly advantaged in language processing skills?
Dr. Ron Ferguson, adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), and faculty director of Harvard’s Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI), shared these facts as he talked about an initiative he launched in Boston. His goal is to help parents engage with their young children and reduce the skill gaps that become apparent between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds by age 3.
“Looking at the research, I realized a lot of the gaps we struggle to address once children are older are evident by the age of 2,” says Ferguson. “We know we are never going to reach everybody through standard programs because capacity is limited, but imagine what could happen if everybody in the community felt a sense of ownership to do their part in helping children thrive.”
The initiative focuses on five evidence-based parenting and caregiving principles. These things can help make sure every child has what they need to learn.
These principles are scientifically proven ways to promote brain development in young children. The initiative is designed so every parent, caregiver, family member, friend or citizen can use and share it.
Here are the principles:
Maximize Love, Manage Stress.
Infants thrive when their world seems loving, safe and predictable. When you express love and respond to their needs, they learn that they can count on you. Showing love and responding helps children learn to manage their feelings and behavior. Feeling secure in their relationships gives them the confidence to explore, learn and take on life’s challenges.
Talk, Sing and Point.
From birth, babies are learning language. Initially, speech is just sound to a newborn. Day by day, they learn that sounds have meaning. This process depends on how much people talk to them. Talking, singing or pointing to what you are talking about provides clues to the meaning of your words. You are providing important information to their brains about how language works. As your child develops, talking with them and answering their questions teaches them about the world.
Count, Group, Compare.
Becoming good at math begins long before a child enters school. Even infants are wired to learn simple math ideas, including small numbers, patterns and making comparisons. You don’t need to be a math teacher to prepare your child to be a problem solver. You can do fun and simple activities now to build math and thinking skills.
Explore through Movement and Play.
Movement and play are good for children’s bodies, their coordination, strength and overall health. This is how children explore and learn, too. Each stage of development brings new opportunities for learning. For example, an infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing. Young children are like scientists, curious and excited to explore.
Read and Discuss Stories.
Reading with young children consistently prepares them to enjoy reading and to do well in school. It is never too early to begin reading! Stories expose children to words and ideas that they would not otherwise experience. Books teach children to use their imaginations, and what they learn about people, places and things can be important building blocks to future success. Reading together creates lasting memories.
Research shows this type of support for early brain growth is a key to stimulating a healthy start in life for all infants and toddlers.
It is also the foundation of kindergarten readiness.
Imagine the impact if everyone practiced these caregiving principles with the children in their sphere of influence. It is possible to close the achievement gap and help all of our kids get off to a great start. We all have a role to play.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/What-Every-Child-Needs-to-Learn.png9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-09-11 00:00:002022-06-02 11:44:26What Every Child Needs to Learn
Harvard psychologists say these things really matter.
Any parent headed home with their first child is probably a bit nervous about this whole parenthood thing. You really want to raise good kids, but unfortunately, each unique baby doesn’t come with its own manual.
Whether you shop local or go to Amazon for parenting help, hundreds of books offer different perspectives on the best way to raise good children. In spite of the many approaches, however, a group of Harvard psychologists found that it really boils down to some very basic strategies.
1. Spend time with your children.
It’s often tempting to be in the same room with your child as they play with toys or a computer while you check email or social media. That isn’t what the researchers are talking about. Engage them in play, look into their eyes and read a book with them. Learn about their friends, find out what they think about school and that sort of thing. By doing this, you’re teaching them how to show care for another person and that they are a priority to you.
2. Model the behavior you want to see.
It’s easy to have one set of expectations for children and another set for adults. In some cases this makes sense, but when it comes to teaching your children, they are like sponges. They take in all you do. Everything from how you care for yourself and let others talk to you, to how you deal with a difficult personal situation or how you handle anger teaches them right from wrong and what it means to be an upstanding citizen. When you model the behavior you want to see, it is a powerful thing.
3. Show your child how to care for others and set high ethical expectations.
Children believe the world revolves around them. When you involve them in caring for others, especially people who are different from you, they learn they will not always be the center of attention and that all people matter. They also see what it looks like to share with others without being selfish.
Even the little moments can teach your child about being an honest and ethical person. When the cashier gives you too much change and you return the money instead of keeping it, they see. Or when your child sneaks something in their pocket after you said they couldn’t have it and you make them return it and apologize – that’s a teaching moment.
4. Teach your child to be appreciative and grateful.
Parents usually start with please, thank you and you’re welcome. Giving your child age appropriate chores and thanking them for doing their part also teaches them about appreciation and gratitude. Teaching them how to write thank you notes and to think about others’ feelings and needs is also useful. [Check out our Gratitude Challenge!]
5. Teach them how to see beyond themselves.
Find ways to show them a world beyond their family and close friends. Help them appreciate differences in ethnicity. Talk with them about other places in the world, rituals, customs, living conditions, etc. By doing this you are expanding their world.
The children in the Harvard study thought their own happiness and self-esteem was really important to their parents. Instead of being overly concerned that kids are always happy, you can emphasize how to be kind to others in their world, whether it’s the bus driver, the Walmart greeter or the referee at the sports event. Focusing on these things will help you raise children who are caring, kind, courageous and responsible.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/5-tips-for-raising-good-kids.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-09-07 00:00:002021-11-23 10:41:415 Tips for Raising Good Kids
Sometimes a dose of reality discipline is all you need.
Your child reaches for a candy bar at the checkout counter and you say, “No.” He proceeds to throw a tantrum. Do you:
A. Plead with him to stop?
B. Step over him and walk away?
C. Buy him the candy bar so he will stop embarrassing you in public?
Your child looks at you with disgust, rolls her eyes and says, “You can’t tell me what to do.” Then she turns on the television to tune you out. Do you:
A. Send her to her room?
B. Leave the room for a minute to get yourself together in preparation for dealing with the situation?
C. Ignore the behavior?
It is 7:00 a.m. You go in to wake your son for the third time. He growls at you and refuses to get up. Do you:
A. Go in and physically get him out of the bed?
B. Turn up the radio so loud he can’t possibly sleep through it?
C. Remove yourself from the situation and let him sleep?
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably encountered at least one of these situations and have been confused about the best way to discipline your child.
According to Dr. Kevin Leman, author and parenting expert, we have arrived at a place in history where American families have become child-centered. American parents have become permissive and democratic, and American children have become spoiled, sassy and out of control. In response to each of the situations above, Leman would say that all of these children need a healthy dose of “reality discipline.”
Many of today’s popular sitcoms and commercials portray children in adult roles with little respect for their parents. The parents (on the other hand) are shown as ignorant, out of touch with the culture, dumb and not smart enough to raise a child. Innocent and comical as it may appear, this role reversal seems to encourage children to be disrespectful to their parents and other adults, discounting their authority and understanding about life issues.
If a child wants to do something and their parents say no, they just sneak around their backs and do it anyway. Instead of earning money to buy new shoes, many teens believe their parents should foot the bill. The idea of doing chores around the house without being paid is often referred to by many young people as unfair and beyond the call of duty.
Leman believes that allowing young people to operate in this manner is not preparing them for the real world.
“There are certain realities by which children are going to have to live their adult lives,” said Leman. “The sooner we, as parents, start teaching what I refer to as the rules of the game, the better.”
Six Rules to Raise Your Children By
1. You’re never going to be the center of everyone’s attention—not for long at least. This means that children should not be the center of attention in their families. Parents should be the center of attention.
2. Everyone must obey a higher authority. Therefore, parents should expect children to obey, not hope that they will obey.
3. Everyone is expected to be a contributing member of society. Too many children constantly take from their families without ever giving back. Leman suggests parents ask themselves if their children are ever expected to perform routine chores around the home for which they are not paid. The only acceptable answer is yes, according to Leman.
4. Everyone is responsible for his or her own behavior. A child who does something bad ought to feel bad about it. Too often parents feel bad when a child does something wrong. Why should a child accept responsibility for his own behavior if someone else does it for him?
5. You can’t always get what you want. And what you do get, you get by working and waiting. Children should receive the things they need and a conservative amount of the things they want. More children need to hear the word no.
6. You experience happiness, which is the elixir of success, in direct proportion to how sensitive to and considerate you are of others. Self-centeredness and unhappiness go hand in hand.
Applying the Six Rules Using Reality Discipline
Although most parents can see value in raising their children by these rules, the real challenge comes in trying to put them into action. In his book, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, Leman gives parents specific ways to use their authority correctly as they bring up obedient children with loving discipline. It is called reality discipline.
The key to reality discipline lies in the answers to these three questions.
How do I:
Love my children?
Respect my children?
Hold my children accountable?
“In order for reality discipline to work the first thing that must happen is the child must feel loved,” Leman said. “Reality discipline uses guidance and action-oriented techniques. Action-oriented discipline is based on the reality that there are times when you have to pull the rug out and let the little buzzards tumble. I mean disciplining your children in such a way that he/she accepts responsibility and learns accountability for his actions. Children expect adults to discipline them. If the discipline is loving, it will be geared toward instruction, teaching and guiding.”
Finding Middle Ground in Making Children Mind
It takes time to raise a child to be a responsible citizen. Leman believes there are far too many households in America where children do not feel loved. Many parents have either chosen to parent from an authoritarian or permissive stance.
The authoritarian parent: makes all decisions for the child, uses reward and punishment to control their child’s behavior, sees himself as better than the child and runs the home with an iron hand, granting little freedom to the child.
The permissive parent on the other hand, is a slave to the child; places priority on the child, not on his/her spouse; robs the child of self-respect and self-confidence by doing things for him that the child can do for himself; provides the child with the “Disneyland” experience; and/or makes things as easy as possible with inconsistent parenting.
Both of these parenting styles set the stage for anger and rebellion in the child.
“I believe there is middle ground between authoritarian and permissive,” Leman said. “It is being authoritative. Authoritative parents do not dominate their children and make all decisions for them. They use the principles of reality discipline, which are tailor-made to give children the loving correction and training they need.”
Parents who use the authoritative approach:
give the child choices and formulate guidelines with him/her;
provide the child with decision-making opportunities;
develop consistent loving discipline;
hold the child accountable;
let reality be the teacher and convey respect, self-worth and love to the child and therefore enhance the child’s self-esteem.
Authoritative Discipline Involves at Least Three Things:
Discipline by way of action – the discipline should be swift, direct, effective and as closely tied to the violations as possible. For example, you have told your child it is time to get in bed. Your child is blocking with all kinds of stalling tactics. Reality discipline says that you don’t argue or negotiate. You simply state – “If you don’t go to bed on time your bedtime will be even earlier for the next three nights,” or “Don’t go to bed on time and give up your favorite TV show for a week.” Be pleasant, but do not waver or hesitate and make sure you follow through on exactly what you said you would do.
Parents must listen to their children – There is great power in listening, but few of us tap that source of power. Really listening to your children helps you understand where they are coming from and what they are thinking. It allows you to make better decisions when it comes to discipline.
Parents should give themselves to their children – Giving of yourself (not things) to your children is an essential ingredient for effective discipline. The simple truth is children want their parents. They want our time.
Understanding Your Child’s Reality
According to Leman, reality discipline has an “eye of the beholder” element. One of your major goals in using this type of discipline is to help your child think and learn. In order to be successful, you have to understand what reality is for your child. It is what your child thinks that counts. Your child’s reality includes extracurricular activities, favorite television shows, privileges like staying up late, etc. Your child’s perception of what is happening is the reality you must deal with.
For example, if you find your child throwing a temper tantrum in the checkout line, understand that their goal is to get your attention and ultimately for you to break down and buy the candy bar. Leman would suggest that you calmly step OVER the child and walk away – not out of viewing range, but far enough away that you are no longer an audience for the show. When there is no audience, the show stops.
What Sets Reality Discipline Apart?
Reality discipline has distinctive characteristics that need to be practiced in every home where children live, claims Leman.
“Parents should never seek to punish, but to discipline, train and teach,” Leman said. “If ‘punishment,’ pain or some kind of consequence is involved, the parent is not doing it or causing it – reality is. This directly connects to the six rules and learning how the real world works. If your child is refusing to get up and go to school, stop being the human alarm clock and let them face the consequences of being late to school. Reality discipline helps parents avoid inconsistent wandering between authoritarianism and permissiveness. It is the best system for teaching accountability and responsibility in a way that it will stick and it is your best bet for avoiding what I call the ‘Super Parent Syndrome.’”
Avoid the Super Parent Syndrome
Even when parents are using the reality discipline concept, it is possible to fall into the trap of being a “super-parent.”
Dr. Leman believes there are four kinds of faulty reasoning that parents need to avoid if they want to make children mind:
I own my children – Reality discipline reminds parents that the goal is not to own or keep children, it is to help them learn to be responsible and accountable persons in their own right.
I am judge and jury – Although we have authority over our children, we should always use it with tender, loving fairness.
My children can’t fail – Children should fail on occasion because failure is good for them. Home should be a place where children can learn more about themselves. It should be a place where children can make mistakes as they try out things they have decided on their own. Parents should not interpret their child’s failures as a direct reflection on them.
I am the boss – what I say goes. There are many situations where a parent knows what a child should do because the parent has been down that road before. Reality discipline, however, helps you guide your child without dominating him and making decisions for him.
What Reality Disciplinarians Do
Your mission, should you choose to accept it as reality disciplinarian, includes:
Being consistent, decisive and respectful of your children as persons.
Using guidance rather than force, but being action-oriented and not satisfied to just use words.
Holding your children accountable for their actions, whatever those actions are, and to help your children learn from experience.
Realizing that parents are the most important teachers your children can ever have.
There are no 100 percent guarantees when it comes to any single style of parenting. Every child has his/her unique personality and needs. The foundations for reality discipline are based on really knowing and understanding your child.
Will the strategies work all the time? No.
Will there be times when you are ready to throw up your hands in total frustration and resign from your job as parent? Probably.
But, if your goal is to raise healthy, responsible children, the best strategy is to keep working your discipline plan.
Nine Ways to be Your Child’s Best Friend
1. The discipline should always fit the infraction.
2. Never beat or bully your child into submission.
3. Use action-oriented methods whenever possible.
4. Always try to be consistent.
5. Emphasize the need for order.
6. Always require your child to be accountable and responsible for his or her own actions.
7. Always communicate love to your child even though their behavior may have been irresponsible.
8. Always give your child choices that reinforce cooperation but not competition.
9. If you choose to spank your child (many parents don’t), it should be done when you are in control of your emotions.
Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Making-Children-Mind-Without-Losing-Yours.jpg10661600Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-08-24 00:00:002022-03-17 16:30:14Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours