Our Childrens’ Needs no.6

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?

What can parents do about this situation? How can we provide a home environment that will stimulate the process of holistic learning for our children?

We can start by spending more time with our children, learning with them. Not teaching them. Not solving problems for them. Not answering their questions. But sitting down and learning with them. This might mean that we set an example by using our free time for learning whatever is interesting for us. We would best allow our children to develop their own problem solving abilities and to help them only when they are stuck. Even then we should not solve the problem, but rather ask them questions that will direct their mind in an analytical way so that they themselves discover the answer. This is the “questioning” method used by the philosopher Socrates is very effective in bringing forth the truth, which is hidden within.

Questions are our best tool for helping. If that does not work, then the we can imagine that we know nothing (which in some cases, in this ever changing system of information, may be true) and we can begin together with the child, to search where we might find answers. This research may take us to our children’s schoolbooks, or to encyclopaedias, magazines, newspapers, the worldwide web – Internet or to persons or friends knowledgeable in a particular subject. In this way our children begin to perceive that the world around them is a «giant book» from which they can always learn and find out what they want to know. In this way learning is connected to life, and life to learning.

Some parents feel that they are unqualified to help their children with their schoolwork. If we ourselves feel incapable, how do we expect our children to learn them. We need to overcome our fears and set the example by learning and growing.

We often deprive ourselves and our children of quality time together so that we can make more money so as to pay for special classes and schools. We make money but have less time to spend with our children. We become tense and tired and have less patience and energy for our children.

Our children see us less and, when they do, they are asked about their grades and whether they have studied. They are seldom asked about their emotional life, hobbies, fears, and problems. The standard question is, “Have you studied?” I might be healthier on all levels if we worked less, saved the money spent on teachers and special schools and spent the time with the child, learning together?

CONSISTENCY

Children, just like adults, expect consistency from the people around them. Consistency means that there is an agreement between what we think, what we say and what we do.

When we tell them not to smoke and smokes ourselves, this is not consistent. When we tell them not to tell lies and then tell obvious lies to others in front of them, how can they respect us? When we have two sets of standards, one for ourselves and one for our children, they feel lessened, disregarded, unloved, disrespected.

When a mother forbids a child to wear make-up and spends time making up her own face, how can the child understand the obvious double message being given? When we give one message with our words and another with our lifestyle, our children become seriously confused.

They are being given a conflicting set of messages, a conflicting set of values, and do not know which is true. This leads to inner conflict and insecurity. It may also lead to bitterness and resentment against the parents, teachers and society. Why should they respect and emulate a society of weak human beings who don’t even have the strength to live up to their own values and are unable themselves to employ their own advice. Thus the age-old «teach by example, rather than words», seems to be the best policy.

Another aspect of consistency has to do with promises. It is very important to keep our word to our children. When we promise we are going to do something, or that they are going to be able to do something, it is extremely important that these words become reality. When we go back on our promises, they lose trust, not only in us, but also in mankind in general. They learn that a people’s words do not bind them to action and that they cannot trust anyone. They also learn that they, too, do not have to keep their word. This makes them feel like isolated beings in a society of people they cannot trust.

When we promise that we will take them somewhere or do something with them or for them, we must make every possible effort to fulfil that promise. This means that we must also be more careful about what we promise. If we are not sure that we can execute a request, then it is better to say, “I am not sure, I will try, but I do not promise definitely that I will be able to”. If we want our children to take their words and promises seriously, then we must teach them to do so with our example.

This also applies to promises for punishment or logical consequences in the case of certain kinds of behavior or contracts which have been made with our children. When we have made an agreement that they will not go out to play until some specific duty or studies are completed, and then let them go out even though the agreement has not been fulfilled, we are again giving them the message that our words do not mean anything. We teach them that they can be irresponsible and get away with it. They then apply the same tactics as adults at home, at work and in society.

When we have agreed with our children about a certain plan of cooperation and behavior in the home (through discussion and participation) and they do fulfil it, then it is imperative that the consequences be enforced, however unpleasant they may be for us and the children. It is best if the child agrees the consequences on before hand, so that there is less feeling of hurt or injustice.

If you would like to receive a free email course with 16 messages concerning how we can help our Children, Send in an email to the following address to get one message each week on Life’s Lessons for 16 weeks.
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