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When should children start formal schooling?
As late as possible, according to Canadian psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld. A recent article published by the IMFC (Institute of Marriage and Family, Canada) Dr. Neufeld explains how attachments to peers can cause a plethora of problems which may not be recognized until later in life when the affects of the peer attachment develops.
Neufeld suggests that sending young children to daycare because it will help them overcome shyness, or get along with others, or in fact because the child “loves to go and spend time with her peers,” is the wrong thing to do. Read more of this article »
It’s important for children to understand their boundaries. And in this case, the boundaries I’m referring to are the literal kind. Physical Boundaries.
There are times when you need to keep your child close to you for safety, or times you need them to stop moving toward something dangerous like the top of the stairs or a hot barbeque.
The word “stop” is a good one to be sure to teach your child at a very young age I taught my oldest boy the word “stop” shortly after he began to walk, around10-months old. Here’s how I took some time to teach this word.
First I held his hand and walked a few steps and then I said “stop!” and we stopped.
I repeated this several times until he seemed to be stopping on his own even though I was holding his hand.
The next step was to walk and let go of his hand having him walk beside me and say “stop,” stopping myself very quickly. He had no trouble stopping with me, and we continued the little game of “stop” until he would stop automatically when told.
Then we both walked around the yard going in our own different directions and I would say “stop” and we would both stop in our own places. ( It was a fun game, kids like games.)
The next step was for me to stand in place and allow him to roam alone, I would say “stop” for him to stop clapping my hands and cheering every time he did it just right all by himself.
As he continued to roam around I would have him stop periodically.
I did this on a day when I also wanted to get some yard work done. Our yard is near a busy street and I didn’t want him to get close to the road. So, I decided that he would be allowed on the grass (separated from the street by a flower garden) and on the walkway (which was separated from the road by the driveway.) I began weeding some of my plants and continued to play the game, giving generous applause for the stopping. It worked a treat, and I was sure to let him know “What a good boy! Look at you!! You can stop! Good boy!”
And since kids love to show off, I added reinforcement to it by telling his Dad…”look at this! He can “stop!” He was one proud little toddler. And he had learned a valuable lesson. Two actually: a safety lesson; and the lesson that people will be pleased with you when you do as you are told.
You would be surprised how much help kids can be. Here are some of the chores my 2 boys help with. They are currently 8 and 12.
Either boy can do these:
mirror/window washing (high traffic areas like entryways and kitchen)
transferring garbage from small bins to bags
bathroom cleanup and details (the younger one does picking up. mirrors and floors, the older one does the toilet, tub and sink.)
running laundry – they sort together, tag team the transfers, and work together to hang and fold. (I do my own laundry, so there’s no worry of damage to a special item.)
putting out/pulling in the trash cans or compost bins. (One child can do it alone, but they manage better together for some reason.)
That’s a lot of help around the house! If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I like “easy” Even if they only do 1 thing each day it keeps the house reasonably neat and clean. And of course I fill in the gaps and do a super good job when it’s my turn! This really only leaves me fully responsible for big jobs like kitchen, (fridge, oven,) walls, spring cleaning, and filter cleaning and replacement.
The younger you allow your children to help, the more competent they will be as they get older. And yes, I did say allow; not make. Young children want to be helping all the time.
It’s not efficient for you to let them when they first want to do it. But if you take the time to introduce them to the work and gradually give them more stringent expectations, they will become expert household engineers before your very eyes.
So you’ve decided to take my advice and pay your children. (See my last post Kids and Money.) Now what?
First you need to decide how much.
How much depends on a few factors. Age, your means, and the child’s spending wants/needs. When my son was 3, he’s 12 now, I started by paying him $3 a week. When he was 6 it went up to $6 a week. at 9 it was $9 a week. And that’s where it stopped. I could put it up to $12 now that he’s 12, but we haven’t negotiated that. So, there’s a guideline if you like.
I chose amounts that were mulitples of 3 as the weekly pay amount. And that was done on purpose. I also pay the children in small bills or change so they can divide their pay.
The next thing you need to do is set up rules.
Yes, you heard correctly. As the parents it’s up to you to set the spending rules for your children.
In our house everyone has 3 piggy banks.
pocket money or spending money
saving up money
When the children are paid, one third of their pay goes in each bank. The pocket money can go straight in their wallet/purse if they have one.
Any time we go shopping, they can use their pocket money for impulse purchases like gum or candy. There are weeks that they don’t spend all of their pocket money. This money can then be reallocated to the saving up or life savings banks. (My kids choose to put it in their saving up money 9 times out of 10.)
The saving up money is not for impulse purchases. This money is to be used to save up for something. My kids have saved up for things like a new game, iTunes money, or a toy. Sometimes they have a joint savings goal and they have bought Wii console, a Trampoline, a Playstation and accessories.
Life Savings is exactly what it sounds like. It’s money that they have put away for major life purchases, like university, to start a business, to buy a car, or a home. This money is never spent. 2 years ago my oldest son had amassed $1000 in life savings. He used it to purchase an interest bearing investment certificate that pays 5% a year for 5 years. (A great rate, for sure!) And he continues to fill the life savings bank.
The purpose of the 3 banks, I’m sure you can see, is to teach children that there are many different types of money needs. And some of them take time to save for.
This is why I chose the pay rates I did for the children: multiples of 3 work for the lesson.
Young children can easily grasp the concept that money is needed to make purchases. (It’s amazing how many adults have forgotten this concept, with the advent of the credit card.)
In order for children to learn this lesson, it is important for them to have money. At first, they’re going to need you to give it to them.
It’s a good idea to start paying your children as soon as they are old enough to ask for toys when you are out shopping. This will serve 2 purposes:
It will teach them to budget.
It will teach them the value of saving, and not spending on impulse.
(O.K. I lied, it will serve 3 purposes not 2.) It will save you money in the end.
“Wait!” you ask. How can paying your child save you money? Simple. You will no longer be responsible for purchasing gum from machines, ice cream at the corner store, or toys that are begged for while shopping at a department store.
You will simply allow your child to use their money to buy the things they want and can afford. When they say they want something, you just have to say ” Did you bring your money?”
We all want to help our kids. And we want them to be successful. The challenge then becomes balance.
How much help should we give children when it comes to money? If we hand it over too easily they will not learn to appreciate it’s value and if we let them struggle too much then we don’t open doors of opportunity.
I believe in helping children to earn money, while having them be responsible for their own expenses.
Elementary school children: Help them find a way to earn money, so they can learn to budget.
High School Children: Urge them to get a part time job while they are in school, but also suggest that they consider how they will spend the money. Offer to help them (with transportation back and forth to work, for example) in exchange for their saving a majority of their pay.
University Students: Let them live at home with the same costs ($0) and privileges (cooked meals, roof over their head, access to laundry facilities, and perhaps your car on occasion if that’s been the norm) that they had when they were in high school.
New Grads: For one year after university, and while they are actively seeking employment in their field, allow them to live at home (if they want) but charge them a meagre room and board charge. Enough to cover the food they eat, the hot water and electricity they use.
If you give your children these assistances along the way you will help them to set sail on a smooth financial journey. This method gradually increases their responsibilities while allowing them to focus on the goal of getting an education.
Have you heard parents counting while they wait for their child to comply with their instructions?
I don’t believe it in. I believe in children doing what they are told to do. Children should do what you said because you said it, not because you started counting to 3. It’s like a threat. (And sometimes a hollow one, don’t get me started on that one. That’s another post!)
“Give Mommy your toy.” Mother is gather playthings so they can leave to go home. Child continues to play with the toy.
“Mommy said, give me your toy.” Child continues playing and ignores her.
“Give me your toy…..(big pause)…. Mommy’s going to count…..(pause)…One (big pause) …..twooo (longer pause)….” Child plays with toy and either does or doesn’t hand over the toy. Regardless of whether or not the toy is handed over this whole interaction was a waste of time and it only teaches kids that you only mean what you said if you count.
Honestly, I’m always a little embarrassed for the Mom using this “technique.” To me, she is demonstrating that she hasn’t taught her children to respect her words only her threats of punishment.
Here’s how I got results with young children.
“Give Mommy your toy.” Child continues to play with toy.
I get down on their level, look them in the eye and say. “Did you hear me? I said give Mommy your toy.”
If they don’t do so immediately, I put my hands on their arm above the wrist, and make them pass me the toy.
If the child was looking at me when I said it the first time and I’m sure they heard me, I skip the middle step and simply make them do it.
If I am met with defiance or negative attitude, there is a time out immediately or at the soonest opportunity. Delaying a time out for long is not effective for young children. You just seem like you’re doling out random punishment.
Believe in your own authority. If you don’t, you can be certain no one else will – not even a two year old.
The Time-Out Space should be the most boring place in your house where your child can be safely left alone. For toddlers it might be inside a playpen, or in their crib with no toys. For preschoolers my favorite place was the landing of the stairs. Other ideas might be in the hallway with bedroom doors closed.
The Time Out Space should be devoid of entertainment and distractions and other people. It should be completely boring; a good place to think about your actions; a good place to realize that what you were doing before was more fun than being here; a good place to make a plan for how to improve your behaviour and get back into the game; a good place to cool off from flaring emotions.
I use the Time Out Space as a place for punishment. When this is the case I set a timer and tell the child that they can return to find me when the timer goes off. When the timer goes off and they come to me we discuss the incident that led to the time-out and plan a strategy for avoiding such an unfortunate incident in the future. (Timers make things easy. In case you haven’t noticed, I like easy. With a timer keeping track of the time-out, I can go do something productive, or just relax without watching the clock – I’m not the one being punished, after all.)
If the child comes to find me before the timer has rung then I return them to the spot and say:
“Oh, no, I’ll have to start the timer over again. Back you go.” It doesn’t take very many times of this happening before they learn to stay in the time out spot on their own.
Guidelines for how long to time a child out:
1-2 years: up to a minute
3-4 years: up to 3 or 4 minutes
5 years and up: up to 5 minutes. *No more than this.
*The point is to have time to miss the fun. The time out is not the punishment, missing out on the fun or interaction is the punishment. My kids didn’t need long time-outs to adapt poor behavior into good behaviour. They hated being on time-out. A one minute time-out was the longest I ever needed.