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
THE CHANDELIERS by Vincent X. Kirsch
(Available at your local public library or bookstores, including online stores.)
In THE CHANDELIERS, “Little Rufus Chandelier was not big enough to perform in the show,….” Rufus, instead, watches (and learns) from the wings of the stage of his family’s nightly show until one night everything started going wrong. Rufus came to the rescue. He found ways to save the show from fixing the costumes to making the sound effects. It was after that show that “…Maximilian Chandelier made a special announcement:…’we could not have done it without the wonderful Rufus Chandelier!’” Rufus was recognized before the entire audience as a very important member of the family. He felt the limelight and heard the applause.
Rufus was admitted into the limelight – he found his place on the stage of life. Now, everyone knew he was important. Let’s all do that for our kids. Put the spotlight on them. Let them know they are important.
All human beings need to be recognized. They need to know they matter. Don’t you? Your kids do too. They need your attention. They need to connect with you.
Even brand new babies need to know they are important to the people around them. It’s not enough to just make sure they are fed, clean and warm – even though that is what we spend most of our time doing with babies. A story about an orphanage is often told to explain how important human attention and human contact is for babies. In this orphanage, the babies were well cared for. They were fed, kept clean and warm. But, they were not held, cuddled and given person-to-person contact. Sadly, the babies didn’t survive in this orphanage. They were missing one essential thing – attention. They needed to be held, touched, cooed at and smiled at as much as they needed food.
Older children also crave this attention. Sometimes children misbehave to get that attention. They would rather have you angry with them than feel you don’t care about them at all.
This is why I have a problem with the idea of “quality time.” Quality time is described as special time that is set aside for us to be with out kids. For me this is a problem. I believe that true quality time happens at unscheduled times, often when we least expect it, often around the smallest and least expensive events. My advice – don’t expect quality time to happen at a big, expensive event like a trip to Disney World. Instead, be prepared for a “magical” moment when you are quietly reading a story or playing catch in the back yard for the fifth time in five days. Those moments don’t cost anything and happen all the time, but as long as you are fully tuned in to your child, when you least expect it, you and your child will have an amazing connection. You’ll learn something really important about him. She will show you how important you are to her. Your hearts will connect. To quote the commercial … quality time – “priceless.”
After night after night of performances, that one night, Rufus showed the family what he was capable of. Fortunately, Maximilian was tuned in to Rufus enough to notice and appreciate what he had done. It wasn’t scheduled. It wasn’t even expected. But, Rufus was ready for the recognition that he had earned and Maximilian made sure it happened.
What would you like to be famous for? Good cook, singer, smart, strong, faithful? We all need to be famous for something, even if it is only with our small little family.
Every child can be famous for something
When can a child learn to do something really well? Every child learns at his own pace so what one child can do at four, another can’t do well until six. And, not many tasks or accomplishments require a certain size. Even in basketball, there are exceptional players that are much smaller than the rest of the team. So, when a child wants to do something, it’s best not to say, “When you get bigger.” That takes the power away from the child. He has no power over getting older. His determination doesn’t matter. The amount he practices won’t matter.
Instead, ask yourself, what does my child need to know and be able to do to be good at what he is asking to do. Let him begin to try one small part of the task. For example, if he wants to ride horses when he is only two or three and you think that wouldn’t be safe. You can tell him he needs to know a lot about horses before he can ride them safely. You can find ways for him to begin to learn – read about them, visit them, pet them, feed them, etc.
I remember a dear friend of mine who used to tell me about how she was told over and over she could do things when she got bigger. She was less than five foot tall as an adult. She grew slowly and never got much “bigger.” Because of all those “when you get bigger” comments, she struggled to convince herself that she was no “less important” than her taller friends. Let’s make sure our kids know they are important no matter what age, no matter what size. Maybe this is what Dr. Seuss meant when he said, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Daily Parenting Tip
What kind of parent do you want to be? Or grandparent, teacher or caregiver? A GREAT one! You can be exactly that – just “Decide and Practice.”
DECIDE what you are going to think about the kids in your life.
DECIDE what you are going to feel about the kids in your life.
DECIDE how you are going to act with the kids in your life.
Decide: Your child can do many things well.
Practice: Today, put a message by your child’s lunch or on his pillow at night that says, “You are the best at ________. Repeat everyday for a week.
Today’s Decide and Practice daily parenting tip was inspired by our featured picture book, THE CHANDELIERS. Read the book to a child in your life each day as a reminder of what you are deciding and practicing that day.
Come back each day for another good parenting decision and how to practice it. (Each day’s activity will also be posted on Daily Parenting Tips page for easy access.)
Read All About It
GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson
SELF ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke
TIME-IN, Jean Illsley Clarke
PICK UP YOUR SOCKS, Elizabeth Crary
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