child centered vs family centered - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 03-26-2002, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What is the difference between family centered and child centered?

I feel like we have been rather child centered having two kids under two but now that they are almost one and 2 1/2 it is time to become more family centered. What does that mean? Any thoughts:
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#2 of 24 Old 03-26-2002, 03:13 PM
 
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This is what I think it means...
Child-centered: very focused on child(ren) paying a lot of attention to them and their needs/wants. Most activities revolve around what they are doing.

Family-centered: children's needs are met, but are not the focus of adult's attention. Attention is put on family (adults?) activities, and children are in middle of activity,but not the focus of it.

Does that make sense? I know what I mean, but I'm not sure if I'm explainging it right.

I think that it is difficult to be "family-centered" in our culture, where one adult is alone all day with the children. I view family-centered as more conducive in a tribal culture where there are many adults and many children all participating in day-to-day activities together. KWIM? I'll try to explain more, if this doesn't make sense.
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#3 of 24 Old 03-26-2002, 06:23 PM
 
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I think that family centered is a nice blend between a family being totally child centered, and a family where the parents live their lives around their children. Not that they don't play with, or interact with their kids, but they have the attitude that the adults are the adults, and the children are the children, and the kids have to fit into the family rather than being born into the family.

That did not come out at all as I intended. I read a book recently by John Rosemond (???) and he described the later that I was trying to describe above.

Our family is very child centered, but I feel that we need to work to become more family centered. Last week my volleyball team went to dinner since our season was over. It was just us girls at dinner, even though our families often came to watch and play in the gymnastics room while we played. My son totally did not understand why I was going and he didn't get to. He is almost four and he really thought that it was his right to come along simply because he wanted to. We don't have family nearby to babysit, but we occasionally leave the boys with our good friends who have kids the same age as ours and go out to dinner for a couple hours. This doesn't happen but only a few times a year. I think it needs to happen more.

We really enjoy our kids and like taking them with us everywhere we go, but I don't think it is healthy that my son thinks that he should be able to go with me when I go out with friends. Some days I just need a break. I think it's time for the needs of Mom and Dad to come first sometimes, and it's healthy for them to see their parents enjoying each others company.
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#4 of 24 Old 03-26-2002, 06:34 PM
 
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I'm not sure if you are asking for cultural definitions of these terms or personal ones.

Personally, I think they are somewhat interchangeable. To me being child/family centered means that you are sensitive to the needs of family members and make that a priority. It would be impossible to be family centered and never be child centered IMO.

I think that culturally people imagine that "child centered" means the parents never expect the child to accomodate them and instead indulge 100% of the child's interests and requests/demands without making anything else a priority.

The thing is I have never SEEN a parent who actually does that. Yes I have seen "spoiled" children but in every case it was a child who did not have a parent giving them meaningful attention and feedback about their world. Instead, they were handed whatever would shut them up and the parent did not sacrafice anything in order to help/attend to the child. In other words, the spoiled children I have seen were neglected children, but not in the malnourished or sickly sense of that term. They were neglected of emotional and intellectual attention from the parent, and were instead met with substitutes (toys, candy, whatever). Parents who do not want to deal with any fits or tantrums or issues of the child, and just want them to shut up and go away (but giving them a distraction so as to feel they have "dealt with them").

I think it is the natural order of things for children to need and for adults to give. Adults who are threatened by how much time and attention children require, IMO, are still trying to parent the child inside themselves who is full of unmet needs. Meeting the needs of your children should be a very rewarding experience in and of itself, and I do feel something is wrong when parents talk about child care as if it were an unfair burden and they are missing out on time spent following other interests.

However, if child centered meant never doing what the parent needed to do, and never expecting your child to accomodate you in any way, that would be terribly unhealthy, IMO, for the child and the parent. So long as any parent centered activity accomodates the needs of the child and is realistic/considerate of the child's feelings, I do not think a parent has stopped being child centered simply because they are doing an activity the parent chose instead of the child. A long car ride--I bring snacks and treats. Grocery shopping--I let ds pick out a surprise. Going out for coffee alone--I explain that I want to have some time just to sit by myself, and ask him what fun things he and daddy have planned while I am gone. If ds whines in the car or is bored in the grocery store or says he wants to go with me for coffee, I just work around that in the way that a parent can...by acknowledging how he feels and helping him focus on what positive aspects there are to the arrangment.

One thing that really bothers me though is when people feel that doing these kinds of things--bringing snacks and treats, letting children look forward to a treat on a grocery outing, or thinking of a fun thing for them to do while you are gone--that *this* is being "child centered" and over indulgent. I never know what to say to such people, because IMO that is like saying that children just "do not matter" , that adults are free to selfishly only consider their own feelings and never trouble themselves to look at things from a child's POV and find ways to make activites more interesting for them.

Anyway, this is long enough.

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Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#5 of 24 Old 03-26-2002, 06:56 PM
 
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Okay it must be the weather, I don't think my above post made any sense *LOL*

However I have to jump in again anyway jbcjmom 'cause we were posting at the same time and I just read what you posted.

Puh-lease do not waste your time on Rosemond! He, I think, has an absolute complex about "child centeredness" and it is quite infectious. He seems to think there is an epidemic of parents out there who care to much about their children...: I wonder if he reads any part of the paper other than his own column.

I really feel he is just like Dobson and Ezzo; a man who fundamentally is threatened by children (almost without question, I would bet every one of them had a parent who felt that way about them as a child), and who see's their basic nature as parasitic and corrupt; something parents need to save themselves and their child from ever indulging. Just read his book again with that in mind--it is amazing. Normal behaviours, even unpleasant ones that will go away if the parent does *nothing*, are so micro managed for fear of letting the child "get out of control", I think these books give parents an absolute complex about their own child's needs. I think parents wind up feeling manipulated whenever they accomodate a child.

NOT saying you are like that. I KNOW you aren't! I just hate to hear parents questioning themselves based on THESE books, because it is a warped perspective. One where *every* child will look bad to every parent who reads them

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#6 of 24 Old 03-26-2002, 08:47 PM
 
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Interesting discussion! I don't have anything to add other than to second heartmama's thumbs down to Rosemond. I quit reading his column because it just gets my blood pressure up!:mad:
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#7 of 24 Old 03-26-2002, 09:56 PM
 
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Heartmama, I think your post made perfect sense. I was nodding in agreement the whole time as I read it. So if it was senseless, so am I!!
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#8 of 24 Old 03-26-2002, 11:28 PM
 
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Glad you agree about him Kezia *yuck!*

SoHappy, Thanks that made me laugh out loud. I did feel like I was jumping all over in my posts, poor Mallory, I hope I didn't just confuse her :

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Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#9 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 12:17 AM
 
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I have read Rosemond, and while, I do not agree with his spanking stance, I agree with a lot of other things he says! He does believe(and states in his books) that parents should be totally child cehtered for the first year and a half. At that point, the parents should start a gradual shift so that, by the time the baby is three, the house should be more family centered. He believes that an environment should be child proofed so that a child can explore at will. He is quite completely against micro managing, and speaks out about that very subject.
He is a firm believer that a child should be allowed to be children, letting their imaginations run free. This manifests itself by severely limiting the amount of tv(preferably none until they are reading well on their own, than 5 hurs or less a week), and only a limited amount of open ended toys. WHile his discipline style does not fall in line with ncp, I have found that, by using my own common sense to adapt the methods to my unique situation, some of his methods work wonderfully for us. SO, while I can understand why people have problems with his methods, I think it is way off to lump him in with Ezzo!
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#10 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
He does believe(and states in his books) that parents should be totally child cehtered for the first year and a half. At that point, the parents should start a gradual shift so that, by the time the baby is three
I don't know who Rosemond is but this is exactly how I am feeling. What are the specific things that make you more family centered?

heartmama, ok I am confused but its not your fault
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#11 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 12:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by boysrus
This manifests itself by severely limiting the amount of tv(preferably none until they are reading well on their own, than 5 hurs or less a week), and only a limited amount of open ended toys.
Does anyone know why he would want to limit open-ended toys? We've a ways to go b/c Finn's only 9 months but I'm trying to think philosophically about how to negotiate this balance. So have been thinking lots about the continuum concept as well. One thing that I distinguish between us being sensitive to ds's needs but not taking a directing/leading role in his play too much.

But maybe that's a different topic altogether. I'm feeling confused...

Thanks for any clarification
LiminalOne (a HipMama and Mothering mom all in one shiny package)

Angie, Mama to Finn (6/01) and Theo (4/05)
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#12 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 01:47 PM
 
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I thought that would be unclear as I was writing it! What I meant was that you limit the number of toys overall and those that they do have should be open ended. His rule is that, if it was being produced before the 1960s, it is probably good(lincoln logs,trains, blocks, legos, etc)
As far as how to change from child to family centered: here are some things we do. We do family bed. But, I dont do it past age two. When they are babies, they can go to sleep whenever and wherreever they want to. As they get older, we start having bedtime and they sleep in their rooms. They do not have to go to bed at that time, but they must stay in their room and play. This is Mommy time or Mommy and Daddy time, if he is home(he works nights). Since the big boys share a room, this actually becomes their special play time. If they start fighting, then my older son can go and lie down on my bed if he wants to(we are in the front room) or my younger one will come and sit on a chair in the front room. He caan read books or play quietly until he is ready to go back to bed. SOnce he is usually the instigator and since my oldest usually just wants to go to sleep, we have found this to be pretty effective. My younger son understands that this is quiet time and it does help him to unwind. Now, of course, if they need to come to our room to sleep, they absolutelly can. We have them bring their sleeping bags and they can sleep on the floor. They dont ask to very often though.
Also, once they get to about two, they start asking "May I have some _______ Please?" Instead of "I want" or "give me"
And when they are babies, they are kind of allowed to trample over other peoples games and take toys at will. SO, when they become the older brother, not only can they not do that, but they also have to learn to compensate for their little brother doing that to them. We will have big brother try to unterest baby in another toy, or maybe big brother goes adn sits at the kitchen table where baby cnt reach, but sometimes, big brother just needs to share.
They start having more chores as they get older too. My oldest feeds his dog. They both have to get dressed and make their beds before breakfast. I am beginning to have the younger one do the laundry. I stand there and help him weith it, but he thinks it is great fun.
SO, I think his website is www.rosemond.com As I said, there are definitely things you will not agree with, but as they say at la leche league: Take the best and leave the rest

Edited to fix link!
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#13 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 03:46 PM
 
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Boysrus - I like your description of how you parent, and your change from child-centered to family centered. It makes a lot of sense, and sounds like it works well.
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#14 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 06:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by boysrus
This manifests itself by severely limiting the amount of tv(preferably none until they are reading well on their own, than 5 hurs or less a week), and only a limited amount of open ended toys.
LiminalOne, I have read Rosemond so I understood the statement about toys, but I can see how it would be confusing to someone who hadn't. Rosemond doesn't advocate limiting the amount of "open ended toys" per se. What he advocates is getting rid of the overabundance of toys that today's children seem to have. He told his kids (I think they were in elementary school at the time) that they could each choose five toys to keep, and that they were going to give the rest away. He encouraged them to keep toys that were "open ended" so to speak, and could be played with in many different ways, such as Lincoln Logs, and Legos, rather than a toy that can only be played with in one way, like a toy dinosaur.

Although I think that in many cases Rosemond goes to an extreme, I do like a lot of what he says. I don't ever remember my parents helping me with my homework, but today's parents seem to have a hard time sometimes figuring out where their responsibilities end and where their children's begins. He feels that homework is a childs responsibility, and if they don't do it they suffer the consequences.

I don't like the whole "putting the child in their room all day" punishement that he advocates quite often, but I like that he feels that kids (I'm talking a lot about older kids here) should be responsible for things that SHOULD be their responsibilities, and if they blow things off, they should have to deal with the consequences. I especially like the story he tells about his daughter who came up to him the evening before her science project was due and told him that he needed to take her to the store so she could get the things she needed to get it done that night. He asked her if she just got the assignment that day, and she said no, that she had known about it for weeks. He refused to run right out to get her supplies and dig her out of the hole she had dug for herself. He told her that they would go in the next day or two and she could turn it in late.

It's in things like the above story that I like about him. The daughter may have been upset that night, and her grade was lower than if she had turned it in on time, but it was her mistake, and she learned from suffering the consequences. Spanking and his "child spends the day in their room" punishments aren't for me, but I do think he has some good insight. You just have to wade through what you don't like and take what you do. I also don't see how he can be compared to people like Ezzo or the Pearls, or equally nutty people.

The book I read was titled "A Family of Value" if anyone is interested. You definitely won't like everything he has to say if you are on these boards, but you may find yourself agreeing with some of his philosophies, especially for school aged kids.

Heartmama, I mentioned Rosemond as the anti-child centered as far as toddlers and preschoolers are concerned. I don't use his ideas with my kids at this point, but I think that I will as they get older and become more responsible teens and pre-teens. I like less of him than I dislike, but I like the idea of holding kids responsible for things that should be their responsibility. I don't want my kids to feel like they need to rely on me for things they should be doing for themselves -- like homework.
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#15 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 08:30 PM
 
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oops

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#16 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 08:36 PM
 
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***UNCLE UNCLE****** :

Okay so someone found something good about Rosemond.

Well, as they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day...

I do personally feel he is very anti child, and a bit of a nut in this regard, and it comes across often in his column in particular. I, personally, cannot just gloss over something like spanking (he is a strong supporter of that) and his support for punishments in general.

I would not want to be his child.

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#17 of 24 Old 03-27-2002, 10:29 PM
 
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It sounds like Rosemond has a few good things to say. The thing that's turned me off the most to him is that I once read a column where he specifically attacked attachment parenting. I don't remember exactly what he called it, but it was something along the lines of "feel good fluff". I don't expect every person in the world, and every "expert" to embrace attachment parenting, but to specifically name it in a cut-down was to me uncalled for and has made me not want to put much stock in what he has to say.

Though the things Beth shared make sense, and I do like and agree with the definitions of child-centered vs. family-centered that have been shared here.
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#18 of 24 Old 03-28-2002, 01:03 AM
 
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Heartmama, I'm with you in that I would not have wanted to be one of his children either. I remember looking at the back of the cover with his smiling family on it and wondering if his children were cringing inside. He also had a new grandson, and I kept thinking that I wouldn't have wanted to have been his DIL. Can you imagine the pressure she must be under as a parent??? What if deep down she's really AP, but is totally pressured to do things her FIL's way.

I don't have access to his column in my area, so beyond my reading of that book, I don't have a good basis on him to draw from. I'm sure that you know much more about him than I simply because you can read his columns. I would probably be mortified if I knew all that you do. Perhaps I'm glad that I don't. I don't like that he advocates spanking or any physical punishment. I don't like many of the punishments he mentions in his book that are simply for punishment sake due to bad behavior, such as making a child stay in his room, even if the infraction occurs early in the morning.

He definitely talks about marriage coming before family, and while I think that a strong marriage is important to a strong family, there is a balancing act that has to take place. He leans a little toward the whole "children should be seen and not heard" thing for me. I would hate to think that when my dh and I walk into a restaurant with our kids, that he would roll his eyes at us and accuse us of letting our children run our family.

What I did like was what I said before, making children accountable for the things that they should be accountable for. I know too many parents who basically do their children's homework for them. After working in both the school system and at a preschool/daycare, I've seen too many parents who blame their children's bad behavior on any number of things (like they were up late last night, or boys will be boys, or that their child just hit another child, and why were we overreacting like that.) I want my kids to learn to handle their responsibilities to the best of their ability at the age that they are at, and to understand and deal with the consequences when they don't. It is in this arena that I like what he says.

Again, I'm not his biggest fan, and am a bit more naive about him than many of you, so please don't hate me ((sheepishly)).
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#19 of 24 Old 03-28-2002, 03:28 PM
 
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I did get to meet and talk with him once and thought in person he was much more well-reasoned than he seemed in his books. He wrote an article on gentle discipline for a parenting book (a how-to type book) which surprised me since I knew he was pro-spanking. Can't remember exactly what it said but I did remember thinking he was starting to sway our way (not totally but somewhat).
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#20 of 24 Old 03-28-2002, 05:35 PM
 
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Hey, laralou!!! Congrats on your senior memeber status! I'll get there one of these days, but as the weather her in Iowa gets better, I'll be spending less and less time on the boards. I think that's a good thing.
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#21 of 24 Old 03-28-2002, 05:44 PM
 
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Still OT<Thanks, Beth! If I told dh, he would probably take my computer away. He already thinks I am here too much. When I was in warmer climates I was never here. It has only since our stay in freezing, snowing Detroit, I have been more active online. >

Sorry. Back to the discussion.
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#22 of 24 Old 03-29-2002, 12:21 PM
 
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Duh! Makes a lot more sense now. Don't know how I feel about the family centered approach but I do agree about limiting toys and am going to put many "away" this weekend. I can see that ds is overwhelmed. Thanks for the clarification.

Angie, Mama to Finn (6/01) and Theo (4/05)
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#23 of 24 Old 03-29-2002, 06:45 PM
 
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jbcjmom...Don't worry

We can't all agree on everything. It isn't a big deal. I would concede Rosemond is less awful than Ezzo.

Now if you start saying Ezzo makes sense...

WE NEED TO TALK : : :

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#24 of 24 Old 03-30-2002, 03:42 PM
 
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I think this is a great question! I went through a big transition with both of my kids as they became toddlers. For me, it made sense to take the focas off Keeping the Baby Happy to putting the focas on The Work I Need to do to Run the Family. Much of the work I need to do is about taking care of my children, but when my focas was on trying to keep them happy all the time, I didn't have as much time to do my work such as prepare healthy meals, keep the house orderly so we avoid choas and panic, and have routines that ensured they got enough sleep. Ironically, when I do my work my children are much happier because their needs are met and they feel safe and secure. Did this make sense??

I don't consider myself child centered now at all (my kids are 3 and 5) but my kids are with me all the time and I always consider how I make a situation workable for them. We recently traveled half way across the country to say good bye to my Grandmother before she passed away, and then help my mother as much as we could with the arrangements, cleaning, etc. I always let my kids know how they needed to behave in this strange situation and made sure that they had something to do -- even if is was just some coloring books and a box of crayons. Because my children are well behaved and know that they are not the center of the universe, they understood when I told them they could sit at the table and quietly color that that was what they needed to do. Later, when we had time, I made sure that they had opportunities to run and jump and make lots of noise -- in a difference place where playing is appropriate.

I think AP is the foundation for good behavoir -- kids who are happy and know that they are totally loved don't need to misbehave to get attention. They just feel good about themselves. But for us, not being child centered is the other half of the equation. My kids know that they are special, but that everybody else is too.
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