Monthly Archives: April 2007

Wheels

My 10 month old daughter seems to change daily. She figured out crawling forwards a couple of weeks ago (with some help from Mommy) and has not stopped since. She now ventures anywhere on the first floor of our house that she pleases, has shown an interest (but not the ability, thankfully) to climb to the second floor, and screams in protest at the gate that leads to my basement office — which is filled with all sorts of neat things (well, if you are 10 months old, that is!).

As a parental observer of what Olivia does every day, I’m reminded that what she is doing and experiencing is completely new to her. I’ve seen the same things every day for more years than I care to remember, but they are all new to her, whether they be Daddy’s sandals (which Mommy keeps reminding him to NOT leave in the middle of the floor!) or the dog’s kennel, it is all new to her. And as she observes, she develops “favorites” — things that hold her attention more than others.

I remember that her older brother was fascinated with wheels when he was 10 months old. He would lean over the side of the stroller to watch the wheels turning while we were out on walks and would crawl over to the stroller (if it was on its side — which is where it tended to be after we discovered Sammy’s fascination with wheels) and he would try to spin them.

I’m glad that we are in the position to observe and react to what interests our children and that we can help them by giving them things that naturally stimulate their curiosity. May I encourage you to also observe and facilitate your child’s learning?

Thanks for listening,
Tom

The Joy of Discovery, Learning, and Teaching

Sammy, our almost four-year-old son, isn’t the only little one in the house. He has a sister, Olivia, who is now 10 months old. She, too, is a very bright, very curious child and is eager to learn (and will most likely be an “interesting challenge” once she hits the teen years…).

She had gotten pretty good at crawling, but only backwards. She couldn’t quite get the hang of crawling forwards, and her inability to do so was a source of frustration. She wanted to explore her world and reach toys that were out of her grasp but was unable to get to them. Of course, she let everybody within earshot know about her frustrations — and as we all know, small babies can produce incredible volume levels and quite effectively expand the “earshot” range!

This past weekend my wife decided to spend some time with her to show her how to crawl forward.

She is a different baby this week! She can now go where she wants to go, get what she wants to get… Her world is now completely different. She even crawled to me this morning so that I could pick her up and “give her lovin'” — an incredible joy.

I guess my point is that ANY child, no matter how young or how small, is old enough to learn, and as parents, grandparents, or other “meaningful adults”, there’s a lot we can do to help our child’s development. Olivia is barely 10 months old, yet she let her frustration be known and was open to being taught. Today she is a much happier baby, and simply hearing her laugh with delight when she successfully reaches her destination is an extremely precious reward.

What is your child trying to tell you? Please study your child and see if there is something they want to learn, then take the time to teach them.

Do it today. The sooner you take action, the greater the reward.

Thanks for listening,
Tom

Coffee From A Child’s Perspective

My wife was going to visit a neighbor today and asked our son (who will be four years old on Saturday) if he wanted to go and play with their son while Mommy drank coffee with his friend’s mother.

He misunderstood her question, but his answer is simply too insightful to pass up:

“No, mommy, I don’t want to drink coffee because it will make me old!”

I’m going to cut this short because I’m heading out to buy a bottle and formula for myself…

Thanks for listening,
Tom

Encourage Your Child To Communicate Without Repercussions

We visited a small town not too far from where we live for the first time ever today. While it was business related, our errand took less time than we thought it would, leaving us with a few extra minutes on the parking meter to do a bit of exploring and window shopping.

We found a children’s clothing store that had a small play area, and Sammy, our four year old son, took advantage of it and was soon completely immersed in the new toys that he found there. A few minutes later we had to leave.

As we were walking away from the store, Sammy suddenly started fussing and said, “Mommy, I left my puppets in the store!”. He had taken two hand puppets with him on the trip (he likes to take a toy with him when we travel in the car) and had carried them into the store, but they were soon forgotten in the excitement of new toys. Of course, we turned around and retrieved the puppets. No big deal.

Or is it?

As we got in the car and started home, I realized that Sammy’s reaction was really a bit uncommon in children. Beyond the desire for him to take responsibility for his actions, he actually told us something that wasn’t exactly good news. After all, how many times do we, as busy and harassed parents, get irritated or angry when our child tells us something, especially when it is bad news?

We need to react differently. As one of my bosses once told me, old news does not get better with age, and it’s better that we train our children to tell us any and all news as it comes up. Sure, our natural reaction is to scold or discipline a child for doing something wrong — but I’ve decided to move beyond this type of reaction with our children.

No matter how bad the “report”, Sammy knows that he can bring bad news to us, and while we will talk to him about it and he will have to face any potential consequences that arise from the action, he knows that he will not be punished in any way, shape, or form. He’s learned this in his short four years of life and tells us about LOTS of things that I don’t recall my older children ever telling me (of course, my reaction was different “way back then”…).

Today, this “policy” resulted in a couple of favorite puppets being returned to Sammy. Tomorrow it might be something different. Eventually it’s going to be something extremely important, perhaps a matter of life and death. But regardless of how large or small the “bad news” might be, I’m glad that Sammy feels free to communicate such things with us — and I’d like to encourage you to do the same with your children.

Thanks for listening,
Tom