Pearls of Wisdom - Kimberly Thompson

Whenever we start a new job, there are seasoned professionals that will impart their wisdom on us. Parenting like any job will have seasoned professionals who share words of wisdom. Some of the time we must figure out what they mean or read between the lines, leaving us to use our imagination as to what they mean. Being a teacher I try not to miss an opportunity to teach so here are some of my personal favorites.

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it! Often we say things because it is the first thing that pops out of our mouth. “I’m going to pinch your nose off if you do that again.” Translation: “What you are doing is annoying me. Stop it now.” In my experience, just saying what you mean is the better choice. Give yourself a minute to think of a way to say it appropriately. “If you jump on the couch again you are going to your room.” or “Stay off the couch. Go outside and jump on the trampoline.” Always be sure to follow through with what you say. So if they choose to continue to jump on the couch, send them to their room. Or outside.

Give your child choices you can live with. We want our children to be able to make choices, and to make them in a timely manner. Who ever wants to dine out with an adult who takes forever to decide what to eat, and who could enjoy a day of shopping with an adult who can’t make a decision? The process of teaching our children how to make choices can be frustrating to say the least. Starting off with limited choices trains them to recognize reasonable limits. Instead of saying “What do you want to wear?” say “Do you want to wear the red, yellow or orange shirt?” When they say purple you respond “That wasn’t one of your choices.” and stick to your decision. The purple shirt might be in the dirty clothes pile, or it might not be appropriate for school. We all have limits on our choices and it is good for your child to learn to live with those limits, and to learn to live with her own decisions.

Honor your child’s intentions. For example, when your child puts the dishes in the dishwasher without being told, resist the temptation to correct the way he placed them. Just say thank you, put the soap in, and run the dishwasher. So what if the dishes don’t come out perfectly? Your child is learning to help, and that is the most important thing. If you always go behind your child and “fix” things instead of honoring his intentions, you will have a child that will never offer to help because you can’t be pleased.

A band aid and a drink of water will cure almost anything. When your child falls, walk calmly over to her and check out her knee. Wash it off, put a band aid on it, and offer her a drink of water. A kiss is also a good thing to add! The water and the kiss provide a distraction and a little reassurance that everything is OK. If you panic, you will encourage your child to believe that minor mishaps are catastrophes. You want her to develop appropriate responses to bumps and falls, especially so that she can pick herself up at school or at a friend’s house. Tell your child the old, old story of “the little boy who cried wolf” (look it up if you haven’t heard it before).

Often these pearls of wisdom are passed down in families. I know my family has some. So I will leave you with one of my family pearls to figure out… ”Pull yourself up by your boot straps and get on with it.”* I have never been a huge fan of that one because circumstances may make it difficult to accomplish this pearl of wisdom. There are times when the most accomplished professional needs help.

*Note from The Mommy Mentor: There actually is a concept in research called “bootstrapping” that comes from this old saying. It means to solve a problem using the available resources. If you think about it, teaching our kids to “bootstrap” their way out of a problem is a really useful skill they will use the rest of their lives … eventually they will face adult problems that mom and dad can’t solve for them.

About the author:

Mary Beth Porter is a retired kindergarten teacher and mother of one grown son from Sugarland, TX. She now enjoys volunteering at Sugar Mill Elementary School in Fort Bend ISD, where she is able to spend quality time with kindergarteners without the pressure of running a classroom. She also enjoys spending extra time with her husband, son, and miniature pinschers.