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Parenting - The Owners Manual

Tips and information for parenting kids aged 0-12. See Thursdays Blog for Parenting Teens.

Children Need to Discover Who They Are

Monday, July 18, 2011

Children are just little people who will grow up and become independent from their parents with talents and desires of their own - that is, if they are allowed to express themselves as children.

An important part of childhood is self-discovery, being able to try out new things, to choose their own clothes and to decorate their rooms in a way that pleases them. This is how they discover who they are and what their likes and dislikes are.

By age 10 most children will readily tell you what their favorite color is, a preference that will likely stay with them throughout life. By age 12-15 they can give you a list of their favorite hobbies as well as a list of activities they don't feel successful at. These burgeoning talents and preference are developed at a young age as they are allowed to explore the world around them and to use their imagination to construct their personal world.

A child who is not allowed to express themselves, who is held back from trying new things or who is manipulated to accept the choices of their caregiver will not fully develop their own true potential and talents. They may grow up not knowing how to please themselves; instead they look to the world outside of themselves for validation (like a proverbial social parent). In a sense they never fully mature as an autonomous individual and may feel as if the apron strings were never completely cut.

It is not a good idea to attempt to mold our children into "mini me's." Eventually they will resent the manipulation and rebel, or worse yet, they will grow into adulthood never having confidence in who they are or in their ability to make personal choices.

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posted by Karen Dougherty, 5:20 AM | link | 0 comments |

Trick-orTreat with a Two-Year-Old

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Remember the first time you sat your baby on Santa's lap?

You were so proud of your adorable little darling, and you were anxious to make family memories with a photo of your angel on Santa's big, red, hairy lap. Instead, at once, everyone in the immediate vicinity stopped, turned, an gawked at your child, who had begun screaming at decibel levels higher than an oncoming firetruck. The picture you wanted to treasure shows a panic stricken child with a death grip on Santa's beard, pulling it off as Santa desperately hands the child to whomever is nearest his chair. Beautiful.

Well Halloween is right around the corner and your next family milestone is about to be reached, taking the two year old trick-or-treating. You have painstakingly perused catalogs or fabric stores hoping to create the perfect little costume. Your two year old is bubbly, outgoing and loves to dress up, so trick-or-treating should be great fun - right? Maybe not.

Two year olds have only recently become used to the human face as being friendly and welcoming. On Halloween night, or at the neighborhood party, there may be people with masks and face painting which will transform those lovely, friendly faces into frightening, confusing and misunderstood images of fear. Two-year-olds, especially young ones, haven't yet developed the ability to understand that behind the terrifying image is a wonderfully pleasant person. In their mind, they are witnessing an onslaught of monsters anxiously awaiting an opportunity for induction into their dreams.

This Halloween you can create a pleasant, fearless experience by hosting your own Halloween party for children your child's age. In the invitations request that masks not be worn. Most young children can't wear them for more than a few minutes anyway without becoming uncomfortable. Or you can take your child to a trunk-or-treat event sponsored by your local church or shopping center.

Keep a look out for those monstrous looking ghouls and redirect your child to another attraction before they see the frightening sight. If you go door-to-door hang back behind the taller kids. That way you can see if the provider of treats looks frightening or if they are behaving in a way that might frighten your child (BOO! etc.).

Take a few precautions and make this family milestone a wonderful memory for everyone.

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posted by Karen Dougherty, 4:05 PM | link | 0 comments |