In October 2005, I attended a class offered by our local Parents As Teachers program. It was called “Ten Things Kids Need That Nobody is Trying to Sell.” I took copious notes and typed them into my computer. I recently came across those notes, and wanted to share them with you here… especially since we are entering the time of year when kids are covered with LOTS of things they don’t need (toys, candy, Christmas presents) and maybe not as much of what they DO need.
- The average bedtime for kids in America:
- Preschool and primary school-age: 9:30pm
- Middle schoolers: 11pm
- High schoolers: 12-1am
- When kids are sleep deprived they are 1) crabby, and 2) have decreased problem-solving abilities. No wonder they get mad and throw a puzzle when they can’t find the right piece! They can’t solve the problem because sleep deprivation prevents you from being able to think from your frontal lobe.
- Kids need an 8pm bedtime. If you’re caught out in public with your kids after 8pm, you should be arrested!
- Many parents of very young ones say, “She gave up her nap.” If you believe her, you’re saying sleep isn’t important.
- There is no study or research that supports the myth that skipping a nap means your child will sleep better at night!
2. GOOD NUTRITION
- Obesity is a major problem in America, and in our children.
- It’s sad that in America, the top-selling breakfast foods are: Froot Loops, Cocoa Puffs, and Pop Tarts. So bad for you!
- We’ve been telling our kids “Eat what tastes good.” Instead, we need to tell them “You have to eat this, it’s good for your body.”
- You can’t FORCE your child to eat, but you can give them good options to choose from. Kids can’t go to the store themselves and grocery shop! You do that for them, so do it well.
- Watch your child’s portion size, and your own! Your kid is going to want to grow up and eat what Daddy is eating, and you don’t need a double Quarter-Pounder!
- Endorphins are good for you and help heal your body. There are only three ways that your body releases them: through a cardiovascular push, belly laughing, and sex.
- Your kid isn’t getting endorphins from sex, so you gotta make sure they’re getting them elsewhere!
4. FRESH AIR & SUNSHINE
- We’ve raised wimpy kids who don’t go outside because it’s “too hot” or “too cold.” Then take some clothes off, or put some on!
- The sun gives your body vitamin D. Vitamin D helps strengthen your kids’ bones.
- Sun can be “stored” in your body up to 2 weeks, so even if it’s sunny only one day every 2 weeks, get your kids out there to play in the sun and the effects will last.
5, 6 & 7. DARKNESS, SOLITUDE & SILENCE
- It’s good to let your kids be in darkness. If they are afraid of the dark at night time, then you need to empower them to cope with their fears (problem-solving!), don’t just turn on the light for them. Some ideas are making a sign for the bedroom door that says “Monsters Keep Out” or using a magic wand or Monster Spray (hairspray or a spritzer bottle with water inside) to fight off monsters.
- It’s okay to let your kids be alone and learn how to entertain themselves. If your child says “I’m bored”, do NOT offer some sort of entertainment as a solution! Say, “Well, you can clean out the basement” or “You can clean your room” as an alternative. Then they’ll find their own entertainment, which makes them increase their creativity levels.
- It’s okay to ask for silence in your home or car sometimes. You will not hurt your child’s self-esteem by not answering her questions every time. Children can be told that it’s quiet time!
8. PLAY & LAUGHTER
- Kids need play time with adults!
- Stanley Greenspan did a study on Floor Time. He found three major things:
- Parents need to get on the floor with their children! Get at their same eye level.
- Let your children direct the play. Men are better at this than women. Women usually say, “Oh, no. The dinosaurs shouldn’t fight. They should be nice to each other.” But that doesn’t let your child learn to resolve his own conflicts and play at his own pace. Dinosaurs can fight, cars can crash! And the rules to Candy Land don’t have to be “right” every time. Let the child change the rules every now and then.
- Have resolution available. Have a dinosaur hospital, a garage or tow truck for wrecked cars. That lets your child develop problem solving and they can shift the play themselves.
- Studies show that at least 15-20 minutes a day, five times a week of Floor Time will result in significant changes in a child’s listening abilities. They’ll listen and respond better to you, even in non-play times!
- [I found one link about this: http://www.mindspring.com/~dgn/childart.htm]
- So many parents think limits equal punishment. Not true! Limits just means discipline.
- Children shouldn’t just assume they can turn the TV on and veg on the couch. They should ask permission!
- Use your humor! Examples (some are not age-appropriate):
- If your child is kicking & screaming in the store, get down and kick with them. That will embarrass them so much that next time, all you’ll have to say is, “I think I feel a tantrum coming on.”
- Or if they’re having a tantrum, talk to people around you. Say, “Anyone else have a day like this? She won’t quit screaming! She’s just yelling and yelling…” and most kids will stop because they’ll be so embarrassed. They think their behavior is a secret and are embarrassed when bad behavior is pointed out.
- If your child won’t make the bed, then take the sheets off. Say, “I decided you were right. You don’t need sheets!”
- If your child won’t get dressed before school or fights it when you try to do it, then you take off your clothes and go naked. Get your purse and start walking to the car (which is in a closed garage, of course!) and the child will be mortified and realize how silly it is not to wear clothes. Or, just take him in his pajamas. It’ll only happen once, and schools see it all the time. Of course, some schools may just make him sit in the front office all day, which he’ll see as punishment.
- If your kid keeps slamming the door, take it off the hinges and put it in the basement.
- One woman had two girls who fought every night about setting the table for dinner. So one night the mom put the spaghetti directly on the table and poured a puddle of milk above it. When the girls came to the table, they said, “Ew! Gross! Where are the plates?” The mom said, “I decided you were right. We don’t need to set the table and we don’t need silverware.” She started eating the spaghetti with her bare hands. The girls were so embarrassed that they never fought about setting the table again.
10. LOVE & TOUCH
- We barely touch our babies anymore! We put them in a pumpkin seat to carry them to the car and from the car to the building.
- We don’t let strangers touch our babies, even if they are safely complimenting them.
- As parents, we need to increase our touching even more! Kids will get deprived.
- We also need to SAY loving things like, “I love you” and “You’re special” and “You’re beautiful and cute.” One woman realized she never heard her parents compliment her looks when she was growing up.
*What do all these things have in common? They are all FREE! We don’t need more STUFF in our lives. We have enough. Babies come with more gear these days, and our kids have more than enough toys to use.
*Be the voice that kids need… ALL kids, not just your own. You will be considered a mean parent, and that’s okay. If you don’t hear, “You’re the meanest mom ever!” at least once every week, you’re not doing your job.
*All kids push, but they need a wall to push against. BE THE WALL!