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Hi! I've been exploring the idea of unschooing on and off for a about a year or so. My ds is a newly turned 4 year old and dd is a newly turned 2 year old. I understand the "academics" of unschooling but I have trouble applying it to my parenting. I just don't know how to handle certain situations from an unschooling point of view, especially when I think their safety is compromised, the rights of others are infringed upon or there is a chance of property damage.<br><br>
Examples: ~Ds has a kid shovel that is actually very sharp. It's summer time and they got barefoot alot but I insist that he wear shoes when using this shovel. I'm terrified that he's going to jab it down and get his foot and it is sharp enough to do some damage.<br>
~We go to a store and they insist on pulling things off the shelves, knocking things over, etc.<br>
~They want to push the grocery cart in the store but they are not careful of other people or things and heaven forbid I help them with it!<br><br>
I just don't know how I'm suppose to handle these situations. My first instinct is to punish or threaten punishment, like I was as a child, but I'd really like to move away from that. I feel horrible doing it to them and they feel horrible having it done to them but I don't know what to do otherwise. I guess I'm looking for some gentle advice and encouragement.......thanks!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>whiteisle</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11593911"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I just don't know how to handle certain situations from an unschooling point of view, especially when I think their safety is compromised, the rights of others are infringed upon or there is a chance of property damage.</div>
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For me, the "unschooling point of view" means respecting others' rights WHILE still trying to meet my own kids' needs. So, rather than telling them "no" due to the concerns you mentioned, I try to find a way to say "yes" without there being safety/property damage/infringement of others' rights, kwim?<br><br>
So, from your examples:<br><br>
If your ds is okay with wearing shoes while using this shovel, I don't see a problem. If he isn't, would he accept a different shovel? Maybe he would agree to shoes with this particular shovel and barefoot with a different shovel? Maybe I'd re-evaluate my concern.<br><br>
In the store, if they are too young to understand the damage that could be done, I'd try redirecting their energies--could they match coupons to the items you need? Could they help you find groceries? What could they be "in charge" of? If they simply don't want to be there and are knocking things down as entertainment, is there someone you could leave them with when you shop? Could you make your shopping trips shorter (yes, they'd be more frequent, but if they're peaceful that might not be so bad.) Make sure they're not tired when you go? Or make sure they've had time and space to run off extra energy before you go?<br><br>
This brain-storming/problem solving seems like it takes longer, at first. But, punishments and the upsets they create take time and energy too, plus the emotional toll.<br><br>
They key, for me, is to find a way to respect everyone involved.
 

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Oh the grocery cart.... I totally feel your pain on this situation. I have two boys who really really want to push the cart. So we take turns... which is difficult for them... I mean we are in the store for only about an hour so...they barely get any time at all behind the wheel. But we deal with the disappointment by making the non-driver the "finder." "Can you find the ketchup for mama?" Also the "finder" gets to collect all the coupons in the automatic dispensers. It doesn't matter if we ever buy the product or not... but I do limit them to one per item... they have been known to zoom down the aisle and collect a fistful of coupons for cool whip. Even though we have our struggles, I believe as unschoolers my kids know how to act in public because they have lots of practice. Since I take them with me everywhere (opportunities to learn) they are used to my expectations. My SIL never takes her boys with her .... anywhere. So when she has to take them... they are out of control. My point in sharing is... while you may be frustrated sometimes now, in the long run, by being patient and developing strategies to cope with their behavior... you are helping your little ones know how to act in the grocery store, post office, bank, etc...
 

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Have you read Hilary Flower's book, <i><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FADVENTURES-GENTLE-DISCIPLINE-Parent-Parent%2Fdp%2F0976896907" target="_blank">Adventures in Gentle Discipline</a></i>?<br><br>
I found that book really helpful for troubleshooting those tough power struggles like car seats and safety topics, you know, the stuff you need them to comply with but they fight tooth and nail over? She also addresses the daily things that can be negotiable. Good read. I'd say it's appropriate for any parent trying to do a little better than what they themselves grew up with. It helped me to find a balance between being too permissive and the non-negotiable/strict parenting attitude. Hope it helps <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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Your kids are the same age as mine <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
I'll be keeping an eye on this thread to read more good ideas.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">Robyn
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>whiteisle</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11593911"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Examples: ~Ds has a kid shovel that is actually very sharp. It's summer time and they got barefoot alot but I insist that he wear shoes when using this shovel. I'm terrified that he's going to jab it down and get his foot and it is sharp enough to do some damage.<br>
~We go to a store and they insist on pulling things off the shelves, knocking things over, etc.<br>
~They want to push the grocery cart in the store but they are not careful of other people or things and heaven forbid I help them with it!<br><br>
I just don't know how I'm suppose to handle these situations.</div>
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<span>Excuse me for cutting to the chase, but I need to run out the door any minute. The thing that comes to my mind is that children are people, and we need to be able to relate to them in a natural way.<br><br>
You say you're "terrified" about the shovel, and I realize you don't mean "terrified" in the full meaning of the word, but you're obviously quite concerned - so it seems to me that the most reasonable thing for all concerned is to either replace the shovel or just be able to be <i>comfortable</i> about being <i>very firm</i> about how it's used even while being polite and kind about it. Politeness with a kind voice can be the spoonful of sugar that helps the firmness go down easily. That, and being specific about what it is you're concerned about. Because you are in a position to see the full dangers, and he isn't - this is about serious consequences that could result by putting the decision into the hands of someone not yet mature enough to understand the big picture. There's no reason to feel bad about being firm about things that are important.<br><br>
If you were in a store with an adult friend, and the friend started doing some of those things, how would you handle it? I realize it would be different, because you'd be shocked and dismayed that your adult friend would be behaving out of character - but let's set that aside for a moment. My guess is that you would speak in a polite enough but firm way in telling your friend this wasn't appropriate, and redirecting her attention - you wouldn't even think about threatening or punishing, but you wouldn't be afraid to just speak your mind in a direct way that assumed she was able to understand and of course wanted to cooperate and be able to fit in like everyone else in the store. That may seem like a lot to expect of a child, but I was usually able to get cooperation when communicating with mine that way, and the same was true of friends of mine. There are obviously children who have trouble responding to that kind of communication when they're tired or excited, but what I realized later is that it was usually my own fault for trying to do something when he was tired or hungry or had been fed something at a birthday party (or by me...) that had him out of sorts. And I found the same thing when I was a nature guide for school groups - the children absolutely needed to have a healthy snack ahead of time, or there would be all sorts of disruptive behavior during our walk.<br><br>
As for stores, it's hard for little ones sometimes to realize that the things there belong to someone else and cannot be pulled off of shelves - they have no way of realizing how this works. And they see adults pulling things off shelves and putting them into baskets, etc. - so it's confusing. But maybe discussing it briefly ahead of time each trip, and explaining the way it all works, can set the intentions and make it less confusing.<br><br>
I remember an aunt, a mother of four, once commenting to me in a matter of fact way that she noticed I spoke to my son "like a grown up." I really had to think about that - until I thought about the way she related to her own children. I finally realized she meant was that, even though I was very affectionate with him, I didn't talk down to him - I treated him with a certain kind of respect that showed I thought of him as someone who was capable of understanding and relating to me as a person and wanting to please me and those around him as someone who could fit in and behave like a thoughtful person. I think a lot of it boils down to expectations and establishment of mutual respect.<br><br>
And don't forget injecting humor where possible...<br><br>
I'm beginning to ramble, and need to hit the road, but I hope some of that might help...<br><br>
- Lillian<br><br></span>
 

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Unschooling is a spectrum. I am on the spectrum that does not give a child everything they want. (Gosh darn, I wish I got everything I want.) Can you imagine how it must be to be a child no one likes because everyone thinks you are spoiled?<br><br>
I love going grocery shopping with my son at Trader Joe's. At ours they have little kid-sized shopping carts. My son pushes those around and very neatly organizes his so nothing gets squashed. He's 30 months. He ran into me once and I told him he needed to pay more attention, he cannot run into me or other people. The second time he ran into me because he wasn't paying attention I got worried he would hurt someone. (We have a lot of old people here. 50% of old people who break their hips die within a year. His running into an old person could be truly serious.) I calmly told him that if he hits anyone he is not allowed to push the cart. When he hit me the third time I emptied his cart into mine and put his away. He hasn't hit me (or anyone) since. He may have seen the loss of his cart that time as a punishment, but it wasn't. It was a consequence. He LOVES pushing that cart, but he could really hurt someone. He still got to help me every other way, but he did not get to push the cart that time. (And yes, he was terribly upset about it.)<br><br>
I don't consider my son a wilting blossom if he has to weather a little emotional bump. It tears me up when he is upset, but I've got to get past that. I need to believe in him. I believe he is able to push the cart safely. If he can organize it so the bread doesn't get smashed, he can push the cart without breaking someone's hip. If he is a risk to someone, it is MY responsibility to keep him from hurting them. And, as I said, he LOVES that cart. SO, though there may be those here who think I infringed on him by taking the cart away, I disagree. I taught him a lesson by using a normal voice and believing in him. I also kept him from hurting anyone. With all the old people we have here, I found a way to let him use his cart and keep those old people safe.<br><br>
It sounds to me like the op thinks that unschooling means letting kids do whatever they want. I don't. For me, unschooling is helping children explore the world while giving them the guidance to maneuver through the areas they are too young or inexperienced to achieve by themselves. It should be done with gentleness and respect, but, to me, that doesn't mean they get everything they want.
 
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