Growing Up is Hard to Do, Part 2

We have been amazed at how much good parenting information is in children’s picture books – books that we hope you are reading everyday to the children in your lives – your own, your class, those you take care of.  We will be pointing these parenting gems out to you so that every time you read one of our featured books to a child you will be reminded of the parent you want to be.

Featured Picture Book

STOP THIEF by Adam J. B. Lane

(Available in public libraries or bookstores, including online stores.)

STOP THIEF is a book about Randall, a boy who wants so much to be all grown up – or does he?  On the very first page of the book Randall announces loudly, while standing on his chair, “I am a big boy now!” He goes on to list all the things he won’t be needing or doing anymore – no tucking him in at bedtime, no kisses and hugs, no Mr. Pigglesworth, his stuffed pig.

Then the action starts.  Randall gets out of bed and sees a thief stealing Mr. Pigglesworth.  He begins chasing the thief all around town and even up into the sky.  “And as they ran all around town, Randall shouted ‘Stop Thief!’”

“Stop Thief!” is Randall’s constant angry demand, but when the thief is in danger of falling from a building, “It was Randall to the rescue!”  Randall saves the thief and “Everyone made a big fuss over the boy hero.”

But by this time, late into the night, “… Randall just wanted to go home to bed. …Randall’s parents carried him … tucked him in…kissed him…with Mr. Pigglesworth right beside him.… And even though he was certainly a big boy now, that was just what he wanted.”

Parenting Thoughts – Continued
Helping kids grow up

So what do we do about this, you might be asking.  Children have to grow up. They have to go to school.  I am suggesting that we recognize the struggle they may be having from giving things up.  We can help them.  We can make sure they have times when they can still be dependent and be taken care of while we still let them know that we expect them to learn to be independent in many ways.  We can let them know we are proud of them for being more grown up when they go to school while we still treat them like we did when they were younger some of the time and allow them to depend on us.

“Stop Thief!  Don’t take away everything I like or all my chances to be taken care of.  I need to be dependent sometimes.  That is how I get energized and motivated to be grown up when I need to be.”  This is what we are yelling inside as we are trying to grow up – kids and adults alike.

To stop this “thief,” make sure your young school children get plenty of snuggling and “lovey” things at home to balance out all of the grown up expectations at school.  See And Calm Fell Over the Household when we talked about balance in children’s lives (January 15, 2013 archives).

Helping teenagers grow up

Parents of teenagers, we haven’t forgotten you!  This struggle about growing up is especially important for teenagers. They very much think that in order to gain their freedom, they can’t be taken care of anymore and that being taken care of is a weakness.  Heaven forbid!  You can help them see this another way.

Give them the freedom they have shown they can handle.  But, still gladly take care of them – probably not too publicly, though.  Most teenagers don’t want to be kissed or hugged by their parents in public, but you can get away with it privately at home.  Keep doing it, if you have one that will accept it.

When teenagers are not very accepting of showing affection, you can still do other comforting things. You can fix a favorite meal.  You can stoke an arm or give a shoulder massage sitting on the bed at night.  By the way, bedtime is a great time for special messages, both messages you say and messages you give through your actions. When youngsters are tired, some of their defenses are down.  They will give in to listening or accepting your words and actions when they won’t during the day while they are full of energy and focused on other things.

And, remember that wrestling, chasing and rolling around on the floor are other forms of showing affection for many kids. For the kid that doesn’t take to hugging very well, rough housing is a great substitute.  Just make sure that you both are having fun.  If only one of you is enjoying the activity, it is time to stop and try at another time.  You can start by asking if the child wants to play, and you can agree on a signal that both of you will use to say its time to stop.

DIY (Do-It-Yourself)

Find as many ways as possible to say or act out the following messages with your kids: (Adapted from GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson.)

  • You can grow up as much as you are ready to.
  • Asking for help is a powerful thing to do.
  • You can be grown up about some things and still get help and love from me at the same time.
Read All About It


GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson

Surf the Internet:

separation anxiety

school phobia (school refusal)

showing affection to teenagers


Teacher’s Corner:

Teachers, this is your place. Read all about how to use this blog in your classroom at the Teacher’s Corner.

Here are our newest ideas based on Growing Up Is Hard to Do.

Have students read the post and write about:

  • A time they wanted two opposite or conflicting things at the same time.
  • Whether they believe it is OK to ask for help or whether that makes them feel not smart or not powerful enough.
  • Whether they still like to be taken care of even though they are becoming independent in many ways.
  • The ways that they sometimes like family members to take care of them (prepare their favorite food, give them soup when they are sick, hugs, etc.).

What do you think?

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