Influencing My Child

August 19, 2008 at 5:24 am | Posted in adventures with Hali, family, preschool, self awareness | 1 Comment

As a parent I worry more than enough about how I am influencing my child. Guilt hits me as soon as something I said wrong leaves my big mouth. I use a word I shouldn’t have. I criticize when I should have praised. Or do I praise too much? Did I praise the right thing? Should I focus more on the effort than the actual outcome? I haven’t been eating as many vegetables as I should- surely Hali has picked up on that and so she’s not eating hers as well as she should.

I swear I can make everything about me! It’s always somehow my fault. Even in my head.

So on top of the normal day-to-day parental influencing that I have, I am now inflicting my educational influences on my daughter. For the next year I am in charge of her schooling. Great. Another area I can totally mess up. I have to confess to being less than enthusiastic about some aspects of education. Thankfully, most of these aspects are more a part of the public school system. Not schooling itself.

However, I do have a hard time balancing encouragement with outright pushiness. A couple of weeks ago, Hali was sitting next to me at the desk in the office. She had decided she wanted to work in a workbook. One of those trace-the-letter-then-draw-it-on-your-own deals.

She settled in next to me and started working away, making the same letter five or six times, turn the page, repeat. She had done about two pages. Realistically, that is pretty dang good for a four year old. She had just begun work on her third page. She decided that she was tired and wanted to quit. So I looked at the page. It was a letter that she struggles with drawing.

I kind of froze. I thought about pushing her on. I thought about just suggesting another letter to work on. I thought about just saying that was fine and to go play.

I was really worried over this little thing, because for some reason, on this day, the enormity of how my response would influence her hit me hard. So, I smiled, and told her all her letters looked really good (and they did). I gave her a sticker on the complete pages at her request. And I said ” Qs are tricky! Here, let me make you another dotted one for you to trace so you can practice making it”.  This made her pretty happy and she traced it. She decided that was enough and I let it be.

I didn’t want to push her to the point where she just didn’t think it was fun any more. But I also didn’t want her to close her work book in frustration over a “tricky” letter and have it ruin her enthusiasm.

Thinking about it afterwards as she was playing, I couldn’t help but think about how badly this could have gone. I was sort of doing my own thing on the computer while she was working next to me. Only half paying attention. I’d look over when she wanted my attention and smile and tell her I was proud of her for working so hard. Had I been in a bad mood and out of patience or whatever, I really may have responded differently. And I worry about the impact that could have had on her.

That little educational moment may not seem like a big deal at a glance, or even to other people, but we are in the early stages here, and I really do fear I will mess this up for her. As her parent, I naturally have hopes for her. I want her to love learning. I want her to enjoy it. While I think it is only natural that she wants my or another teacher’s approval, I want her to work hard because she wants to.

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  1. The whole parenting thing is made up of the little moments.

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