Expand Your Parenting Recources

April 2, 2010 7:59:58 AM PDT
It can be so much fun being a parent - especially when you're in sync with your child! You laugh at the same jokes, you can finish each other's sentences, you do light-hearted imitations of each other that are right on target.

My son, Jake is a natural comedian. He can sum up a situation pretty quickly and find it's funniest elements. Then he often says a one-liner that really captures the moment. For example, he has my family's Southern accent down to a "t" and remembers the best Christmas vignettes that crack me up.

But, being a parent isn't always fun and games. How about when you're not understanding each other? When you seem to be speaking different languages? When nothing you do is "getting through?"

Fortunately, that doesn't happen all too often for us, but inevitably it does happen once in a while. Whenever Jake and I are having a puzzling or frustrating moment, I try to work things out the best I can. But, later after he's asleep, if I need a fresh perspective or new ideas, I usually call my mom and ask Jake's grandmommy what she would do. There's nothing like the viewpoint of an older, loving family member. She'll remind me that my brothers did the same thing at Jake's age, or tell me what she's tried that worked, even if it was years ago. Some problems and solutions are timeless!

I also have lots of friends who are parents and we exchange ideas, strategies and moral support. I get so many terrific ideas from them.

But if I need a different approach, or I can't seem to be able to reach anyone at the moment, I have several articles and pamphlets from school teachers, caregivers and others that have really been helpful.

One set of booklets is called the "Responsive Classroom" series and includes information from research done on U.S. and European children, by the Northeast Foundation for Children in Massachusetts (their website is http://www.responsiveclassroom.org). The pamphlets explain what is considered "normal" behavior for children ages 4 to 14, breaking it down year-by-year. Sometimes, it's just nice to read what an expert has to say - that your child is developmentally right where they should be and that their behavior is truly a "stage" they're going through. It might not take all the frustration away, but especially for first-time parents, it's good to know you're not going crazy! And the pamphlets also give a couple suggestions that seem to help.

For example, the 4th graders booklet describes what my son's social, physical and cognitive development should be at his age... and they're right on target. It talks about how nine-year-olds have a budding intellectual curiosity, but need more explanations of how things work and why things happen the way they do.

Here's a couple bullet points:

Summarized from the "Responsive Classroom"- by the Northeast Foundation for Children in Massachusetts.

Common Characteristics of 9-year-olds:

  • Social - can be competitive, often complain; can work in groups but argue a lot.
  • Physical - risk takers, complain about small aches, can't be still.
  • Cognitive - like wordplay, begin to have a bigger picture view of the world, not as creative as when they were 8 years old.

The booklet helps me understand Jake and be more patient. Check out their website, or go to your local libraries for more ideas on creative parenting.

I think it always helps to get a fresh perspective. One more tool in a creative parent's tool kit!