17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Such a Simple Lesson

For the last 31 weeks (approx) I have been reading books, articles, blogs, etc. Trying to acquire any knowledge that will ensure my first child will be taught well. There are all sorts of ideas, techniques, theories, hypothetical, and absolutes out there to read about. Some contradict each other and some are confusing, but I feel the more knowledge I have, the better prepared I will be...We will see about that. This Sunday, I was privy to an incredible lesson taught by a couple who were parents 8 times over, grandparents 27 times over, and great-grandparents to many. They taught about the importance of teaching your children to make decisions. Of course I know that this is a critical skill for any person - child or adult - but I am not sure I have devoted the proper time to figuring out exactly how I am going to do this (ask me how I am going to make my child sleep through the night, be a perfect eater, and share...I have superfluous knowledge on these subjects and am sure that once Junior is here it will all be out the window...). So I listened hard. I am sure everyone is already doing this well so I won't go into too much more detail, but one of the techniques they gave was so simple (in theory at least) it made me smile. They suggested that as bedtime is nearing, you give your child a choice between continuing what they are doing (ie playing) or going to bed and having a story read to them. After they choose, make them stick to their decision. If they decide when they get into bed that they really want a story, but they chose to continue playing, explain that they made that decision and that was the consequence. I thought this sounded like a simple way to teach your child such an important concept. Having the ability make choices, and the understanding that every choice had a consequence is simple but necessary. Empowering them to be in charge of their own decisions is invaluable.
It's not a new idea or fancy technique, but it was profound for me. I feel it is very important for kids to understand the importance of making decisions and to give them practice when they are young enough that as a parent you can still control what the choices are - to be sure that one of them isn't a threatening one (physically or spiritually).


  • Thanks, Mellisa. My first child will be born in September, so I'm starting the parenting 101 knowledge procurement you speak of, and bits of info like the one you gave are appreciated.

    Also, please what you've learned--or where you learned it--on good sleeping and eating habits. Thanks.
    posted by Blogger christian bell at 2/01/2006 06:05:00 PM  

  • Meliss, Dr. Phil has a great book that I am almost finished reading called Family First. I really like it. His discipline chapter is excellent. It is all about creating currency for your child. For eg. My daughter would not stay in her new toddler bed at night, she would get out of bed up to 30 times (if not more) in one hour. She values her stuffed bear collection greatly. So, every time she got out of bed, I took a bear, starting with her favorite one. It took a few nights and many tears, but she finally learned that it was up to HER if she wanted to keep her bears. Thank you Dr. Phil
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/02/2006 05:56:00 AM  

  • My favorite is at dinnertime: Do you want 2 carrots or 3? It actually works. As I've learned, your best bet is giving your child two choices, either of which you can live with. So no matter what they say, you're happy and they're happy. Of course, life's choices won't always be so simple, and sometimes their answer is "NONE of those!" but it's a great start. Melissa, your post is so great for beginning parents AND for those not so new who need a reminder. (Sometimes we get too pooped to remember the little clever things that work so well.)
    posted by Blogger Katie at 2/02/2006 05:58:00 AM  

  • Melissa great post. I believe this is the most imprtant thing you can do for a child also. Our daughters are grown, but it still doesn't stop. It has been ingrained in them. We began as they were tiny, like you mention, always giving them two choices. With our first daughter we could give her three or four, but our second daughter taught us that too many options can be debilitating for a child so we begam to limit it to two good choices.

    I think it empowered them in ways we may never know. It also helped us to walk the talk of agency. It is very difficult to allow your child (teenager) thier agency if you have not taught them to make good decisions. By starting while they were small to learn who they are and why good decisions make the best life made all our lives better. I am not saying it didn't run into the ditch a few times, but they are pretty responsible people now, and as Martha says, "it's a good thing". ;-)
    posted by Blogger chronicler at 2/02/2006 07:45:00 AM  

  • Christian bell - I have tried to get a wide range of advice on sleeping and eating habits from friends, different articles, books and family. Everyone seems to have a different opinion. I am currently reading a book called "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" at the suggestion of a friend and find it to be very informative as well as an interesting read. My latest take is to try the approach to both eating and sleeping that fits my personality/ability best.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 2/05/2006 02:53:00 PM  

  • Melissa - I'm reading "Baby Whisperer", too, and the girls out here in my ward swear by it. We'll see how it works out, but I really like the book. It's hard to plan for him before he's here since personality plays such a huge part, but it's great to be informed.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 2/06/2006 12:42:00 PM  

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