I was given a chance to read and review Alyson Schafer’s latest book Ain’t Misbehavin’, and I was lucky enough to be one of three bloggers to interview her for her Mom Central Canada blog tour. I talked to her over the phone about some of the questions I had about her book and some of the parenting dilemmas we face every day. I must say she was very personable, funny and easy to talk to, it was a pleasure to interview her.
Question 1: Most of your book seems to be about how to change the focus of your parenting from doing things for your child to letting them do things for themselves. Why is this so hard for us as parents?
Alyson said that it is mainly because we don’t want to be out of a job. We like being needed, it is kind of a part of our Mom or Dad identity. What are we if we don’t need to be doing everything for our children? It may also be an active expression of our love. There is also the fact that we are busy people and it may seem easier just to take over and get things done a certain way. Unfortunately that is short sighted, and the short term pain will have a long term gain.
Question 2: Your chapter on allowance is very timely for us. Our son just turned 6 and we have been discussing an allowance for Aidan to begin to learn to save. We think we have figured out an amount of 6$ per week, but if Aidan saves for the toy he wants, a Lego Hogwart’s Express, it will take him about 6 months to save for it. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle just beginning an allowance and saving? Should we steer him towards something more easily attainable so he has some success with saving and spending?
Alyson is part of the BMO Smart Steps panel to help kids and parents alike in the realm of money and saving. She suggested working with Aidan to have a budget. Maybe have part of the allowance to save for smaller things that we buy him now and part to save for the big toy. This way he gets to have some early success with saving and paying for things on his own. She also suggested trying to find creative ways of helping him save for the big toy, maybe selling some of his older toys at a garage sale, or a you save half and we pay for half situation.
I really like the idea of teaching Aidan to work with a small budget. Money will become less of an abstract concept and more of a real idea if he makes some of his own budgeted purchases.
Question 3: I have a lot of mom friends who have kids between 2 and 3, mostly boys who are having issues with toilet training. Why is toilet training so difficult? There is so much pressure to have your child trained, and voices from the past saying that kids were trained earlier when we were young, and I wonder what people’s definition of toilet training is? What is normal? Is there any way to make it easier?
Here it is, the skinny on toilet training: most people have differing views on what toilet trained is. For Alyson it is having the feeling of needing to, going to the toilet, cleaning up afterwards, washing hands and going back about their business. For most parents it is not having to many accidents when they remind their child to go every couple of hours, the parent wiping and cleaning the child up.
When it comes to toilet training less is more effective. Don’t put pressure on the child, while the may be physically ready, they may not be emotionally ready. If you are not micro managing your child’s bodily habits there is less resistance from the child to work with it. The problem with schools/preschools is that there is so much pressure on the parent and child to be trained, even though they are supposed to be open to special needs. Unfortunately late toileting isn’t something that schools seem to be ready to deal with.
Most children aren’t trained until well into the end of their 3rd year, and 4 or 5 isn’t unusual. Doctors don’t get concerned until after 7. Maybe if toilet training wasn’t such a badge of honour and bragging rights, we would feel more comfortable with however long it takes.
Question 4: My eldest son is in Kindergarten and he is having issues that are getting him into trouble. He is very social and easily distracted and has a hard time going straight to activities without talking to all his friends along the way. I understand that he may be bored and not looking forward to some of the activities, but I need to help him get into less trouble at school. Is there anything I can do that can help him with this behaviour?
The short answer Alyson gave me was no, there is not a lot that I as a parent can do to help him. Its really the teacher who is with the children who is in the position to make a difference and create a teachable moment. The teacher can use community time to help all the kids work out ways to help every one in the classroom. This may be discussing at circle time how to be helpful in the classroom and not hinder others. Helping the kids to be a team player, and even if they don’t like an activity and want to socialize with their friends, their friends may not want to be distracted and want to get on with their work.
Question 5: Recently Aidan has had a problem with a child in his class. It really started to worry us when Aidan didn’t want to go on a field trip because he was worried about being in a group with this child. Even though I knew that the other child would not be part of his group, I was worried enough to talk to his teacher about it. We had one small solution and then she went on about Aidan’s distraction problems as if they were more important. Neither my husband and I were happy with the out come, and now we are having problems with school drop off. Aidan has been clingy and crying about going into school and this is really not like him, he was waving me off the second day of preschool two and a half years ago. Since it is obvious that the script “I am sorry for [blank] I will not do [blank] again, do you accept my apology? Do you want to be friends?” is not working, how do I give my son strategies for dealing with the other child?
Alyson was frank that it is not ok to be in fear. Children should not be expected to work and learn in a place of fear. There needs to be an action plan in place from the teacher. It needs to be taken seriously. Since you are the parent you are the advocate for your child, if things don’t improve, it may be drastic, but you can ask to switch classes. This is something you can control.
She also emphasized that we need to help Aidan know that he isn’t doing anything wrong. He shouldn’t be internalizing that something is wrong with him when the other boys hits him.
Question 5: What is your best piece of advice to parents dealing with kids?
Lighten up! Lighten up with yourself, the kids. We are all so intense about things that we have a do or die attitude when it comes to parenting. We punish ourselves for not being perfect parents, for not getting everything right with our kids. Take a deep breath because we are all fumbling imperfect people trying to get through life.
I am participating in the Ain’t Misbehavin’ program by Mom Central on behalf of Wiley Publishing. I received a copy of the book to review and gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.