You CAN be TOO Careful

Safety first and “You can’t be too careful.” are two common phrases in our language, especially, pertaining to kids.

I believe keeping a keen eye on safety is very important but also know that parents can be careful to the point of causing more danger to their kids.

The first area where ultra-cautious parents endanger their kids is by being “chokeaphobics”.

Baby’s first solid foods can drive, some parents, crazy. There are lists of foods that I would never feed children under four.

  • whole hot dogs
  • whole grapes

    Young couple with baby.

    Young couple with baby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • peanuts (most nuts) but walnut meats are softer than most.
  • sticky, chewy candy like gummy bears
  • hard candies
  • popcorn (sometimes okay)

You see, at about a year old, kids have their first exposure to chewing food for swallowing. Gagging can be an alarming sound but it is a noise from a reflex which alerts the child to chew. The sound also lets us know that his/her airway is not obstructed. Up to the time of the first solids, babies are gulpers. Parents who “cream” everything and avoid approved baby “munchies” just because gagging frightens them, are encouraging their baby to continue gulping. Chewing must be learned and the earlier, the better. An over-protected eater will have more gagging and choking episodes in later years when other kids are chewing things, like popcorn, without incident.

Then there are the “germaphobic” parents.

Germs are not all bad and even those which offer colds and stomach bugs, have value. Unless your child has a compromised immune system, let them mingle.

Babies are clean slates. Their immune systems are too. As much as we dislike a sick baby, the illness makes baby stronger. Children who rarely get to play and exchange germs with each other, will not only be in for a “plague” of illness when they go to school, they may really get sicker when they are older before they are exposed.

To me, the worst over protection is what I’ll call, the “bumpaphobic” parents.

You’ve seen them. The ones who interrupt “rough and tumble” play at every opportunity.

Kids are pretty sturdy creatures. Their bodies are developing many groups of muscles, and sadly, there is not manufactured child-safe equipment suitable for every need. Kids who aren’t challenged by uneven ground (they will fall)or jumping off of steps (they will fall) or climbing up things that cannot hold their weight (they will fall) are deprived of lessons in balance, depth perception and the physics of living with gravity. Too the extreme, “bumpaphobic” parents create clumsy, accident prone kids who won’t keep up with their peers.

These are my biggest over-protective peeves. I’ve witnessed every one in my day care experience of 38 years and thought I’d warn parents OR give a printable text to offer someone who is witnessing over-protection.

Advertisements

Cultural Dissolve

Homecoming "He's everything I hoped for a...

Homecoming  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No political correctness

No political correctness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a dissolve going on in our culture. Very few actions, that bear a burden of public shame, still exist. That fact, is clearly an alarming example of the erosion of our cultural foundation.

Consider what having a baby out-of-wedlock or being in tremendous debt used to mean. Our culture policed itself by frowning upon such things in years past. Now, those things have no stigma and, therefore, have become culturally acceptable.

The feminists were so zealous in their quest for workplace equality, that they ended up redefining the art of being a “lady” and the act of being a “gentleman”, which I maintain are still worthy titles. Strange how being thoughtful and polite are now viewed as weaknesses? A bad sign, me thinks.

The equal rights defenders have made the fight for justice such a racial endeavor, that it divides us, and distracts us, from our American oneness.

Fairness has replaced, justifiable, in every argument and there IS a difference. Things that seem “fair” quite often don’t justify the burden placed upon others to create such a utopia. Might I add, Utopian ideals belong in the land of unicorns where, I understand, there is no unemployment, debt or greed.

The steps to citizenship have turned into an elevator, with buttons labeled in 7 languages, rather than a goal worthy of being hard-earned.

We accept that all politicians lie, and justice is for sale, without “blinking an eye” while we squabble about semantics (political correctness) to the point of ignoring our common cultural erosion. There is not one problem, other than foreign terrorism, that cannot be explained by and blamed, partly, on our ailing culture.

We don’t recognize that by creating new laws, we also are defining new categories of criminals for an already over-burdened justice system and refuse to realize that the overburdened system, is the reason the current laws aren’t already enforced.

Our media takes advantage of our busy distractions and choreograph our outrage by carefully choosing or boycotting information according to their own tastes and addiction to sensationalism.

Parenting used to be a cultural obligation to our children. Parents who did not take their roles seriously were treated as deadbeats.  Look around, parenting has become a choice according to personal comforts, decided after kids are born. There is no backlash, no stigma, any more.

Look at our current culture and ask, “Is there no shame?”

Seems to me, that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

Bunk and Positive Reinforcement: I need a vacation!

It’s two days before my summer vacation. I’ve been doing child day care since 1975 and my 56-year-old self is tattered and tired. The release of kids from school has added a new dynamic to my daily schedule. Big and little kids are battling for their place in the group. I’d like to say that I have everything under control and all’s well. It’s not.

My first instinct is to devise a chart for my current charges to accumulate “stars” upon. You know, those same charts that parents use for positive reinforcement. They would earn stars for “good” behavior. Accumulating a predetermined amount would allow the little cherubs to turn them in for prizes. BUNK! This whole philosophy seems wrong.

What is the overall complaint about our modern society? No one seems to fear nor anticipate consequences for their bad behavior. Kids are not exempt from this. All this happy, Barney the Dinosaur, atmosphere makes me ill. I couldn’t put my finger on why it bothered me until I considered a chart system that I believe may have better results.

The positive reinforcement Star Chart system is flawed when you consider that the whole premise is based upon the kids being considered already “naughty”. The kids have to work their way UP.  That seems as though our expectations are low for them from the “get go”. I’d rather assume they are good and “nip” the bad behavior when it happens.

My system, which I will implement right after vacation, will expect the kids to know their manners and will reduce their “stars” upon each and every infraction. They will START with 10 stars. Screeching and bickering (for example) will result in an automatic loss of a star. The consequence will therefore happen in that moment. Stars can be earned for kind and mannerly behavior of an exceptional nature too. At the end of the week, those who have a 7 star, or better, average will receive a prize. The kids, who have been schooled with the first star chart, adopt an, “I’ll just make it up later.” attitude or “It’s only Monday. Why worry?”

When you consider the way a mother wolf teaches her pups, my chart is more natural. The wolf mother reprimands her young immediately. This lesson lasts longer. We can learn so very much from animal parents.

My method will be using punishment that is immediate. Yes, punishment. Our society has attached such a bad “taste” to the word or if you’d rather, consequences. I think my method may have good results.

Ever ask yourself how folks without jobs afford tattoos, cell phones and jewelry? I suspect it is because the “check” is in the mail and therefore their “star chart” remains perpetually full.

On one more note, I wonder sometimes when I stopped being an authority figure and became a waitress. Seems the kids play happily until they find me idle then demands for snack time etc. start. I know I’ve created this environment. Heck, their parents love happy, indulged, little people at day’s end. My livelihood is based upon the happy parent. I’m too old to tread lightly and submissively any more. If the kids go home and complain about my rules…so be it.

Vacation time is beckoning, don’t you think? 🙂

The Weight of Parenthood

I came across and old photo of my son. It reminded me of some “heavy” criticism that I received while he was growing up. Parents are a particularly susceptible group when it comes to criticism , in general, but I had my reasons and here’s my story:

My son was a difficult child from the start.(Actually, three weeks before he was born, he kicked me hard enough to bruise me internally.) They call it ADD but I am aware that many folks use that diagnosis as a ball park term for naughty kids too. Anyway, he never seemed to foresee consequences and danger.

It started with a toddler who walked at 9 months old. That boy could literally get burned and go back for more. He’d walk off the end of a dock into a lake. He’d climb to the top of a playground slide and throw his hands up, drop his weight and holler, “Watch this Mommy!”

As he grew, his careless nature did not mature. I still think he may have other emotional disorders. But, in my day, that was considered bunk and he is now 30 years old and therefore was never diagnosed.

There was a time, that he became very “chunky”. Actually, he was quite overweight. This added to teasing at school and compounded every attempt to get his self-esteem lifted but he was alive.

Yes, it was THAT simple. His snacking and sedentary habits were, in my mind, a trade-off for his life.

We lived on a busy street next to a river and railroad tracks. To encourage my son to “go out and play” was too big a risk because I understood his inability to sense danger. Video games kept him happily occupied and he felt successful and proud of his gaming prowess. He had so little to feel proud of himself for. At school, he’d sought negative attention because he was unable to accomplish normal goals in a classroom. He became a chronic “bad boy” and hated school which hated him back. One foot note from a teacher described him as a good kid, at heart, but a trouble maker, just enough, to be disruptive.

Childhood obesity is a real problem in our country. I’m “on board” with kids becoming more active and taking in fewer calories. But I want folks to realize that letting kids go out and play isn’t like it used to be. Child predators and dangers are out there. Parents are busier trying to make ends meet and not available for supervision in many cases. Even healthy foods in large quantities can add weight when kids sit around. My son visited the refrigerator as an activity. We had yogurt. grapes, whole wheat bread and he ate them all. To this day, he will not eat a fatty piece of meat and chicken is his favorite meat.

Well, there I go explaining again. I heard many comments, secondhand sometimes, they all came down to,”Why did she allow him to get fat?”. (BTW-He is a trim and fit adult now.)

My answer…because I loved him, that’s why.

Next time you feel like criticizing an obviously attentive parent. Remember this post, and, please, keep it to yourself. They just may have their own reasons. 🙂

What’s the BIG DEAL?

The Big Deal (TV channel)

The Big Deal (TV channel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kids are, by nature, defiant. Check.

Kids will, one day, find out you are not able to supervise them every minute. Check.

Kids, especially preschoolers, function primarily on reverse psychology. Check.

These are universal truths that I am proclaiming, (and believe), in order to continue this train of thought.

It is a wonderful event when a parent embraces their role. I say,”Lucky kids.”

So what’s the BIG deal? Parents who make a BIG deal over little things.

  • Mom at bank counter raising her eyebrows and voice over the offering of a sugary treat to her child.
  • Dad becoming visibly shocked when baby daughter disrobes in front of boys.
  • A parent’s agony over the third word added to their child’s vocabulary. ( The word is “NO!” soon to be replaced by “why?”.)

Making a BIG deal over small, innocent events make them BIG deals. Big deals play badly with defiant, devious persons who specialize in rebellion. The knowledge that these things bother their parents gives little kids magnificent power. The BIG DEAL making improves the odds that kids will remember and use them again.

Case #567

I have a day care parent who wisely supervises her 5-year-old child’s TV viewing. The parent does not want her daughter concerned with the dating and teenage antics on Teen Nick programs. Again, great parenting philosophy that I agree with!

This parent has scoffed and sputtered about the subject in front of the 5-year-old on a regular basis. That 5-year-old is the only kid who changes my TV channel specifically to Teen Nick. Even the older kids, in my charge, ignore that the programming even exists. I rest my case…

In summary, being a diligent parent of young children, does not require the “making a Big Deal” attitude. In fact, you may be undermining your own goals.

BTW- Parents will have plenty of BIG DEAL opportunities when their kids become teenagers.