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May 25, 2011

It's Their Business

A few weeks ago, in one of my (many) Potty-capades posts, I talked about how Baby A was wearing…me…OUT with her shenanigans. She was playing as much as she was peeing, but I was hesitant to discipline her very much for fear of discouraging her potty training.

Lauren posted a comment that really stuck with me.

Kids play. They don’t have boundaries as to where their play happens.

How many parenting books have I read…how many expert interviews have I considered on any number of given topics…and in some form or fashion, we are reminded of that very point.

A child’s work is her play. It’s how she learns.

And oh, by the way, children are not simply miniature adults. Treating them as such is not particularly effective, and it will probably result in a lot of frustration for the parent and the kid.

From the girls’ infancy, I put some pretty solid boundaries in place. They have a definitive sleep schedule that I adhere to at almost all costs. They follow a healthy diet with a variety of foods, and I feel strongly about not offering numerous alternatives if they don’t like something I’ve served.

In many ways, my girls know what to expect from me and from their environment, and I think this helps keep their behavior in line, and helps them organize their thoughts for learning [another recurring theme in a lot of those parenting books]…

…but how else can I expect my girls to learn about a NEW situation than through experimentation and play?

They test their boundaries. They figure out what flies and what doesn’t. They push and pull and poke and prod to see how something works, what elicits a reaction.

I’m not saying I’m ready to pull the ladder over to let the girls climb clear to the chandelier, so they can swing from it and learn for themselves about the concept of the pendulum.

I still think there’s a time and a place for play, and there’s another time and a place to mind your manners, like at the dinner table.

But I am saying I’ll try to dig a little deeper into the Well of Patience…to step back a little bit and remember WHY Baby A has to mess with the toilet paper roll every.single.time. she goes to the bathroom.

Soon enough she'll figure it out for herself (and then move on to play with something else)...and that's just part of a healthy, playful childhood.


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Helene said...

You make several good points. I often forget that the kids don't think like I do and part of the fun of being in the bathroom is unraveling the toilet paper, flushing the toilet repeatedly to see if it sounds different the next time....I often forget that almost everything they do is simply an act of learning more about their world and how they fit into it.

Thank you for sharing this. I will make sure this sticks in the back of my mind for the next time I start to lose my patience with them!

Andrea said...

Very nicely put! It is hard to step back and let something happen, but in all reality they will keep trying until they do!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Well, I need more of your Zen-ness :) All I see is naughtiness and disobedience when mine don't listen!

Beth said...

Finally! My Google account is being weird and not letting me post comments, but it seems I have found a way around that. Anyway...

So well put! As a grown (mostly) mature adult, I often find myelf shaking my head wondering why my children need to touch and play with EVERYTHING!! I need to remember that they are still learning this world and need to check everything out-- see what it can do.

Your girls are so lucky to have such a patient Mommy!

Jen said...

Great post!!! Surely something I need to think about more...or ever! :-/

Olusola said...

This is a good reminder. I need to find a mantra for this that I can recite to myself as the girls grow older. By the way, I luv the way you use "sheenigans"; always makes me giggle. I can't wait to use it in a post :)

reanbean said...

I've realized lately just how ridiculously controlling I can be with my kids sometimes. There are sometimes when my rules need to be followed for safety reasons, but I'm realizing more and more, that sometimes my rules are just rules. They don't make any sense to my kids and while I could try to rationalize them, I can certainly see how they're not completely essential. T is definitely the more "fun parent" and I so wish that I could just be more loose and free with my kids more often. I'm working on it. I know that play is so important to them (I had a class on this very topic when I was getting my M.ED!), and I do want them to have fun. Just nice, safe fun... :o)

Unknown said...

wow...what a really good reminder! I'll admit I sometimes forget that they're so little. I certainly do NOT want them to grow up any faster!!!

On a lighter, potty training note - I did get Adam to stand by the potty a few times this week. He was standing there the other night before his bath and I told him to go potty...and he goes "pssssst" (made the noise). Ha!

Rebecca said...

You're very right...

Now you're making me feel even more guilty for threatening to throw Matt's truck in the garbage when he woke at 5:45 this morning asking for it.

Anonymous said...

:) you're so smart.

my biggest struggle right now is dinner. no one wants to sit still. they want to be doing other things. i've found that i have to have something to distract MYSELF so i can allow them time to be kids and explore a bit. there's no reason they should have to rush through eating :)

Mandy said...

So true, but it doesn't make it any easier! This well-o-patiences runs dry some days, especially when the mercury starts hitting the 90's!

I wish I could buy some more patiences! I often get really mad at myself when I realize I'm mad at the girls for being kids. It sounds stupid but things like playing with toilet paper irk the hell out of me! I don't make the rules up willy-nilly. There are reasons! I just wish they got that...