Choices – When Do Kids Choices Really Count?

When do kids choices really count?  Or more importantly…do we as parents, teachers and guardians recognize kids choices really count?  So often, we adults set up scenarios for our kids to make choices… and when they do… their choices are discounted or invalidated.

Hang in there and I’ll explain, using the following example.

Each student, in my grandson Glade’s third grade class, was ask to choose and report on their “Super Hero.”  The report would included a bio, an oral report, and the portrayal of their “Super Hero” in a Wax Museum.  Glade was delighted to share his excitement about his “Super Hero”….. Rocky Balboa.

Now, you have to understand, this boy is pretty intense when it comes to his “Super Heroes.”  When he was 4, his hero was Spiderman.  He wore a Spiderman costume all through the heat of summer.. until it became shreds and fell apart.

Then, he turned to Superman.  He zoomed around the house for months with his cape flying from behind. He was disappointed that his hair was blond and not black.   A couple of years ago, Rocky came on the scene and has remained a constant.  Glade often does daily routines… which sometimes includes… lifting the end of the couch in order to better define his “six pack.”

Last year, for Christmas, he received a much wanted leather jacket.  He even tucked it under his arm when he slept at night.  Emily, his mom, supports Glade and has the Rocky music theme on her phone.  When it rings… she knows who’s calling.

So… when Glade came home and told his mom that his teacher said that  “Rocky” wasn’t good enough to be his “Super Hero” … the war was on.  “Rocky” became an issue for debate between the Emily and the teacher.

We, adults, often stand in the way of our children’s self-reliance and creativity by supervising, restricting, directing, and over parenting.  We call this behavior, guidance and then wonder why our kids can’t make wise decisions when we’re not around.

The issue here is… the children were ask to select their own “Super Hero.”  If the teacher had something more specific in mind… it should have been expressed in the beginning, rather than invalidate Glades choice after his decision was made.

Constant invalidation is one behavior that will eventually destroy the the best of relationships.  However, it has become a common practice to use this conduct to nullify each other… just watch the behavior on sitcoms.  It’s especially detrimental when it’s constantly used to control children.

To make a long story short… a compromise was made and Glade was Sylvester Stallone….  even though “Rocky Balboa” has his own web site…stands as a statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has his foot prints in gold on the stairs leading to the museum, and thousands climb the steps and strike a Rocky-like pose as a symbol of guts and fortitude.  City Commerce Director Dick Doran said Rocky had done more for the city’s image “than anyone since Ben Franklin.”

Whether you agree that Stallone is a “Super Hero” or not…. is not the point.  The issues is… he is Glade’s choice.

I attended the Wax Museum presentation and was impressed with the clever creativity and care that went into the costumes.  There were over 100 participants and the kids were so careful to pose and be still.  Quite a feat for a third grader.  Way to go Harvest Hill’s third graders!  Here are a few shots I thought you would enjoy.

Is this little girl gorgeous or what? I don’t know where they got this costume.. but it’s beautiful. Well done Cleo!

This young man’s mom said she had to really talk him into wearing the wig.  She said, “With that wig on, no one will recognize you anyway.”  Thanks Columbus… for your contribution to America!

This little beauty is Diana.  When I approached her with my camera in hand… She gave me this striking Diana pose.

I kept my eye on this fellow… and he held that pose for a long long  time before putting his arm down to rest.  He did Steve Young proud.

Isn’t this the sweetest face.  I thought she actually looked like Ameila Earhert’s photos.  She was another one who stood so still she really could have been wax.

This handsome fellow was one of my favorites.  Maybe it’s because Gandhi is one of my “Super Heroes.”  I remember seeing the real Gandhi in the newsreels at the movie theater… but that was probably before your time.

This little sweetie saw me coming with my camera and struck this precious pose long before I got to her.  I kept watching her as I moved up the isle and she didn’t move.  Sacajawea is another hero if mine.  Have you read the book  Sacajawea by Anna L Waldo?   If you haven’t … it’s a worthwhile read.

Look at the photo of Teddy Roosevelt and compare.  What a great costume and likeness.  In my book, this fellow gets an “A.”

There were lots of portrayals of Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan… but I thought these costumes were the best.   These gals were so patient and held so still while I fiddled with my camera.  I had to take their photo 4 times to get the light just right.

Last but not least…  my number one hero, Glade Neff….Slyvester Stallone.  Way to go bud. Hang in there… you make me proud.

Till Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  When do kids choices really count?  They always count.  Perhaps the real question is… how do they determine the choices they make?

P.P.S.  In my book…Raising Fantastic Kids, I explore in depth ways you can positively help your kids to make good choices.


Parenting: Choose Your Battles Wisely

When I comes to kids, you have to choose your battles wisely. Such was the case this week-end, while I was tending my 4 year old grandson Randall. I was reminded about which battles are important and which are not.

Snip! It only take a few seconds and the hair is gone. Randall cut his own hair… right in the front… in the middle of his forehead.

I was standing in the kitchen when he walked in with a handful of hair… looked up at me with his Paul Newman blues… smiled… and dumped the honey colored remnant into the trash can and walked out.

“Yikes! What’s his mom going to say… and on my watch?”

Of course, I went tearing into the family room yelling like a banshee.

“Nana… It’s Glade’s fault, he left the scissors on the floor,” Randall explained. (Glade is Randall’s older brother.)

After loudly explaining to him that no one should cut his hair except Kayalani, his fantastic hair dresser, he retreated to the corner of the couch with his head down.

After a moment of getting myself together and remembering that his mother did the same thing at the age of 4… and also remembering that I cut my own hair about the same age… I sat down by him, put my arms around him and give him a big kiss on the top of this sweet head.

Several hours later, Randall came running into the kitchen holding a lock of the remaining hair. “Look Nana, I think it grew back.”

When his mom came to pick up the kids, Randall ran out to greet her. She took one look at him and said, “Well, it looks like you have a new hair cut.” With a proud grin on his face, Randall replied, “I did it myself.”

She looked at me and said, “After 4 kids, you learn not to take these things too seriously.”

“Oh… I forgot,” I thought to myself.

What my daughter, Emily, reminded me of today is: Parents have to choose their battles. They have to learn not to over-react to those things that aren’t life threatening, spiritually devastating, or emotionally crippling.

I know that children around the ages of 3 and 4 do not understand consequences. That’s why they sometimes repeat the same behaviors over and over again. They truly forget or they don’t understand. In addition, they don’t have the mental development to see that things are not magically fixed.

“I think it grew back.”

When they left to go home, Randall called out, “I love you Nana.”

All is well in my world!

Till latter,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P. S. Fortunately, his hair was not cut to the scalp, and with Kayalani’s magic touch, he looks great…. and the missing hair will grow back.

P.P.S. Kayalani rewarded him with a touch of green gel… Life is good!

Family Parenting

When Do You Take Your Child’s Blanket Away?

Here we go again… When do you take a child’s “blanket,” “snuggie,” “blankie” away from him? I have recently read several debates on the parenting social sites regarding the matter. Some say that when a child turns three years old, “It’s time to grow up.” Others say, “A child will give it up when he’s ready.”

I stand in the latter camp for several reasons. First: I don’t see many high school students toting their blankets to class. They do give it up… and if it’s later than three… so what. (They just find other “snuggies.”)

Second: We all form attachments. I have a basement full of them. Children, as well as parents, form attachments to things that give them pleasure and comfort. Love my Diet Coke!

Third: Children have ultimate power over so little. If taking the “blankie” away causes a power struggle… give it up. There are far more important things to consider than a soft, torn, worn out “blanket. Choose your battles.

Fourth: Last, but not least, is the plea, “Nana, will you sew my blanket up… one more time?” What can I say…I’m a whimp!

Till Later

Insightful Nana

P.S. I do draw the line on where the “blanket” is taken. Like my Diet Coke, I don’t take it just any old place!