calling all rational parents


Recommended Posts

Hello - starting this thread to help all parents deal with the difficulties of raising their kids - namely me. I'll have some good things to offer along the way, but my main reason for starting this is a need.

My wife and I have a 7 year old, 2nd grader, boy. We often have a tough time helping him stay focused. His private school teacher (Carden School) is out of ideas. In fact, he seems so out of focus for all the subjects that do not immediately interest him, that I am to the point of pulling out my hair or raising my voice or worse.

He can sit and read a book for almost 3 hours straight, or stay focused on soccer practice for a good hours an a half no problem. But when it comes to math homework, ugh.

I realize this is a pretty borad subject, but am certainly willing to hone it down for those who may have ben able to overcome something that sounds similar. thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Patrick,

I'm glad you started this. Kat is a single mother who will shortly not be so. I am a single male shortly about to have an addition of two step-kids to my life.

So this is a very timely subject for me. Gotta do some heavy thinking so I get it right.

I see the whole issue for now in terms of balance. There is a time for being stern, when danger is involved, for example, but I think a good parent also "steers" the interests of the child, by fostering interesting approaches, and lets nature take its course.

The key seems to be a willingness to try to see the world through the child's eyes, while keeping on the lookout for basic BAD STUFF like stealing, drugs and stuff like that. I will have to wait and see, but I m going into this parent thing with this approach.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Michael.

Good perspective.

It's just hard to keep the big picture in mind sometimes when the press of homework, dinner, cub scouts, bath, getting dressed/undressed, brushed teeth, story read, lights out, and sleep etc. all have to be fit into the short 4-5 hours after school - especially when the homework just does not want to be done!

But you are basically right - and that needs to be remembered.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Patrick. Parenting definitely is challenging at times. I have two kids, Inky and Stinky. My daughter is a talented and bright young artist and has her own forum here on OL called Inky's Room.

I certainly wish I had the answer for figuring out how to get kids motivated, but I don't. I just basically play it by ear and let them know what is expected and leave it to them. If they screw up too much, stuff like i-pods and gameboys disappear. They do eventually learn to be responsible.... I think. 8-[

If math is an issue, weave it into the things he does like. One thing that I've seen in school that helped my son was getting him excited about something by using one topic in all the subjects at school. A good example is astronomy, read about astronauts, figure out how many more moons Jupiter has than Mars, talk about it from the various angles to cover all the subjects, reading, math, science, social studies, art, etc. I remember he was big into Buzz Lightyear at the time and was pretty excited about learning. My son is a special ed kid, so he is not really pushed much academically, but I am very proud of both of my kids and they know it.

Kat

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Pat:

~~ If I may add, probably almost repeating what Mike and Kat said in most areas. Let your kids know what your REQUIREMENTS are, and here I must add: That you 'mean' it. No homework done? Ok. No other-things-they-like-'till-it's-done (TV, vid-games, toy-play, friends-play, etc) allowed.

~~ Re 'motivation' per se, I don't really think that one can actually 'instill' this. One can only 'expose' kids to varied and different things. A kid having no interest in math or reading (apart from min REQUIREMENTS set), may have (if they've discovered it) mucho in 'body' skills such as dancing, skating, martial arts, gymnastics, or any ESPN stuff; maybe 'hands-on' stuff like Lego-building or wood-handling, even; then there's 'puzzle'-games. --- They have to find their *own* interest-'motivations' re what to develop, but can only find such through 'exposure' TO such; and I have no doubt that whatever it is, such WILL 'branch out' to the areas you might be specifically concerned with, eventually. --- Clearly you have a computer. Check out some 'learning'-oriented vid-games. Even my Down Syndrome g'kid became fascinated with Reader Rabbit (but, your kids' mental-age/abilities should determine WHICH level of game-type to check out.)

~~ I have a 4-yr old nephew who's been fascinated with nothing but clocks and watches (especially the 'ticking' and s-l-o-w hand movement/changes) since he was 2 1/2. He's now fascinated with 'gear'-toys.

~~ I suggest search for VARIED 'experiences' and find out what 'base' to work from re any 'help' you wish to give. Drag 'em to a museum (especially, though not only, including the as-of-late 'hands-on' ones.)

~~ GL. You (as all of us) will need it.

LLAP

J:D

Link to post
Share on other sites

John, Thanks for the encouragement and new suggestions. They seem very appropriate. My son is indeed VERY interested in many other things and overall, I'm not worried at all. Just wondering how much to push on the focus needed for him to do the basic math and a few other things he does not like much now.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Patrick,

Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Cognitive Development at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. For his scholarly effort, Dr Naglieri was awarded the American Psychological Associationn's 2001 Senior Scientist Award.

Dr Naglieri is a good friend of mine. His teenage son, Jack, works at my restaurant on weekends.

Dr Naglieri and I, have long discussions on how parents can help children

to learn academic and related skills. His book "Helping Children Learn"

provides practical methods for teachers and parents to use to help children acquire academic Knowledge and skills.

In his book Dr Naglieri refers to a theory called PASS, which stands for

Planning, Attention, Simultaneous, and Successive cognitive process( Naglieri 1999).

The Pass cognitive processes are ways in which people think, learn, and solve problems. I suggest you to buy his book. It will be very useful in helping with your son's problems.

You should be able to buy the book at www.brookespublishing.com

Best

Ciro D'Agostino

Link to post
Share on other sites

Appreciate the post. Will take a look at the book.

I'm now repeating a 10 week Parental class - "Raising Resilient Children" with Christopher Glover in Santa Clara, CA. Main text is Faber and Mazlish's "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk." Really neat - especially this second time around.

Also went thru "Children who are not yet peaceful" by Donna Bryant Goertz and "The Psychology of Freedom" by Peter Breggin - two quite different books but with essentially compatible messages: treat kids with GREAT RESPECT!

Things are a bit better now, but still some rough edges on focus. I think lots has to do with how I treat my son, instead of a problem with him, so I'm working on that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 months later...
I think lots has to do with how I treat my son, instead of a problem with him, so I'm working on that.

Nice insight ...

I think children do the best they can.

I question the morality of insisting our children focus on what WE think they should, as opposed to say, helping them focus on what THEY think they should (and helping them have good ideas about that).

After all, I think being a rational parent means assuming one's children are also rational, that is, they do things for reasons that make sense to them. Together we can look at what objectively seems to make the most sense, rather than simply enforcing it as a top down edict as if we're infallible.

And by way of intro ...I'm Luci (contrary to what my name is listed as ) ... all for rational parenting. Nice to meet you:)

Link to post
Share on other sites
After all, I think being a rational parent means assuming one's children are also rational, that is, they do things for reasons that make sense to them. Together we can look at what objectively seems to make the most sense, rather than simply enforcing it as a top down edict as if we're infallible.

Hi Luci, Welcome to Objectivist Living!

That was a great point you made. Kids need to learn to think rationally in order to be able to make good choices on their own and become independent thinkers. That takes a lot more work than demanding blind obedience. As a parent, I prefer the role of teacher over dictator any day. I also recommend reading How to Talk so Kids Will Listen. When I was in a mothers' group called La Leche League, we had a small informal workshop on it. It is very helpful and focuses mostly on improving your communication skills (such as active listening) with your kids.

Kat

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

Luci:

~ Re your view...

I question the morality of insisting our children focus on what WE think they should, as opposed to say, helping them focus on what THEY think they should (and helping them have good ideas about that)

...I mostly agree, with one big condition on that, and, a smaller one: 1st)-that we identify 'when' they actually are thinking, and, when they are not but instead merely 'desiring/wanting.' The younger the child, the more the latter is their behaviour-motivator...and should be ignorable if conflicting with what WE think they 'need.'

~ I question the morality of insisting that our children merely 'fend-for-themselves' with little experiential or educational knowledge re maturing...such as a thread in RoR debating the worth of 'un-schooling.'

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey
Link to post
Share on other sites

Luci:

~ Ah, yes, my 'smaller' one: When what a 5-yr-old-or-older 'child' (argue that they...) 'thinks' conflicts with what the parent 'thinks' is necessary to do or pay attention to, I have to say that the one's with more experience in life is the one to support; not the immature ignorant one. -- A 'parent's responsibility is more than mere physical care-taking while otherwise letting their child play in the street if the latter 'thinks' they'll get more 'needed' sun there.

~ Montessori oriented schooling allows 'options' 8-ways from sunday in learning things (unlike 'progressives' which allow infinite options...including doing nothing), but, set requirements re limits of the options.

~ I'm all for 'choice', and, indeed it's necessity in a child's learning, a-n-d, a parent/teacher's teaching how to avoid dangerous or dumb 'choices.' The latter requires applying requirements in learning.

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey
Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was in the 2nd grade, I had no interest in reading. Nothing I read and little that was read to me was interesting to me. It was not until 4th grade that I discovered books about historic heroes that I developed any joy in reading. Once I found something that interested me, I read voraciously. Meanwhile, I did fine in math, but I did not greatly enjoy it. It was not until we started doing word problems in math that it really became interesting. In the 5th grade, I solved a word problem involving the dimensions of an aircraft carrier flight deck and the necessary take-off distance and how many airplanes taking up some area of space could be stored on the flight deck. My Dad was a naval aviator at that time. Suddenly math was a means to solve real problems.

The fact that your son already reads for hours is a great indication that he is interested in learning, if only those things that interest him. This is the real point. Really what is important is whether a kid learns that there are interesting things to learn and that he become committed to embarking on a lifetime of learning. This is a race that goes to the tortoise, not the hare. School is sometimes counterproductive. When your boy plays soccer, is he thinking at all about the strategy of the game, or only the mechanics as yet? When and if he is thinking at all about strategy, then this is a sign he is a problem-solver. This is important, because it gives you a great means to sell him on learning. It gives him the tools he wants to solve problems.

I always tried to show my kids (3 daughters) that I was interested in learning myself. When I could find something interesting in what they were learning, I tried to make a point of it. In addition, I was often reading myself. But, in the end, you lead children to the water, but they have to decide that they want to drink it. Some simply want to please their teacher or their parents. Others want to find direct pleasure in the learning for themselves. My oldest and youngest daughters seemed to be motivated to please others and also seemed to be personally interested at least a substantial part of the time. My middle daughter was seldom interested in pleasing anyone else and was only sometimes interested directly herself. But, she does seem to like reading and she is intelligent and tends to choose only intelligent friends. My youngest daughter is in her 2nd year in the Honors Program at RIT in biotechnology and has a 4.0 through 4 quarters and is assisting a professor in research. She had so many advanced placement credits and has taken a heavy course load at RIT and during the first quarter this year became classified as a 3rd year student. My oldest daughter got her B.S. with High Honors in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the U. of Texas at Austin and a Certificate with Highest Distinction in a Business Management Program for Engineers. She now leads a team at Accenture on Supply Train Management. My middle daughter dropped out of college and is trying to figure out what she wants to do. As parents we can help, but in the end, they decide what they will do.

I tried to give them responsibilities and as much as possible to talk to them in the expectation that they were capable of rational understanding. Mostly they were. I also gave them greater freedoms than many parents will give their children. They generally proved that they deserved these freedoms. Some kids will not do so and have to be treated differently. I tried to give my daughters as much freedom as possible, pulling back only when they showed they could not handle it. Mostly they appreciated this and tried to earn their freedoms. I believe it helped them to become more self-responsible and to expect self-responsibility from their friends. It is very important to observe who they choose for friends as a gauge as to how they may act when they are on their own and to judge what their values really are.

Each kid is an individual and raising any one of them is a complicated job fraught with uncertainties. Good luck. Every parent needs some of that to leaven their parenting skills.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now