Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Children See, Children Do


 I was upset with myself after school today when I asked my son to pick up two pieces of candy wrappers that we found on the stairs. I asked him to pick up one piece while I picked up the other. He kept repeating that he wasn't the one who threw it and so why pick it up? I tried to explain that it was our school and therefore we need to take care of it but to no avail. I felt embarrassed because people were walking passed us watching us debate. I could not decide whether  I was upset because he would not help out or because he did not follow my instructions. 

After I had a word with him about it, he asked me, "Are you upset with me over a piece of paper?" 

hmmmm... stop... think... what do I answer to that?.... take a deep breath....

"No, I am not upset at you over a piece of paper but because it would be nice to learn from Mama sometimes and to do as she asks just as I do what you ask of me many times. It is also kind to keep our school clean and if we saw something that littered it to pick it up, setting an example to others."

I did say something I am not too proud of though.... I said that I was disappointed in his decision not to listen or help out.

When all I should have done was pick it myself as I usually did and see if in the future he would do the same. I need not ask him to do anything which was my mother's style of teaching about litter. She used to stop people on the streets and ask them to pick up their own litter that they had just thrown out of their car or as they walked by. Her manner with them was so gentle that they agreed with her when she said,"This is our country and we must all take care of it and keep it clean." What can anyone say to that? 

I have to admit, that it used to embarrass me when I was 7 years old and if we were in the car, I used to slide under the seat to avoid the people seeing me. But now I do the same. She did not need to tell me to pick things off the street, I just observed her do it many times over. The only thing she actively taught me was never to throw anything on the ground myself but keep it in my pocket or hand, and later car, until I found a trash can.

if he saw that I picked up the candy wrappers without saying a word, the action might have registered and he might do the same in the future. 

Would love to read what you think?


Birdie said...

I think we need to raise our children with a bit of both. Words and example. Don't be hard on yourself. I think it is OK for kids to know we are disappointed in a choice they made.

Tabouleh said...

Thank you Barbara... you made me feel better and I agree it is better to do both... a balance between the two would certainly do the trick.

ms. devi said...

I think you handled it perfectly. Why do wonderful mothers always guestion themselves and really bad, irresponsible mothers never think twice about their actions or inactions.
Oh, wait. Is it because we are good mothers that we question ourselves?
Picking up someone else's thoughtlessness o indifference is a new, maybe paradoxical concept for a young child. They're new in the world of The World & And How We Should Be In It.
You planted a seed. It will sprout and grow and impact on many different aspects of his growing character.
This how we teach our children to be kind, caring and responsible - little words to them, giving them a brand new something to think about and by your picking up the other piece of paper.
And, you know Lana, sometimes a kid just has to "resist listening" - part of establishing their own person-ness. It has nothing to do with the moment. And he conversed with you about it. He questioned. What is better than that?
You are a great mom, like your mom was for you.

Tabouleh said...

You are way too nice to me sweet gentle Paula... thank you for the vote of confidence and for boosting my confidence in my parenting skills... I actually felt 'bad-der' because my husband disapproved of my sentence... and so such reactions always make me uneasy about my reactions to things... maybe I did not do that right... or maybe I should have said it in a different way... but now that other mothers reassure me, I feel so much better... I try my best... I keep learning and for Jad to turn around an ask me why I was upset then he was thinking about it rolling it in his head trying to figure it all out...
Yes you are right... he is trying to find himself... I did not add that he actually told me that he could do what he wanted and not always listen to me or his dad... he is growing up too fast... thank you again sunshine...

ms. devi said...

I just reread your post to see what sentence Aaron was upset about. I think it might be "I did say something I am not too proud of though.... I said that I was disappointed in his decision not to listen or help out."?
Well, you said you were disappointed in his decision - you didn't say you were disappointed in HIM. There's a big difference. We can be disappointed in a person's particular decision but still respect that person. I'll bet that Jad can relate to times he was disappointed in decisions you made (and will make) but but he still loves and respects you.
Yup, "he could do what he wanted and not always listen to me or his dad..." oh yeah! that's a breakthrough moment for a kid when he realizes that. It's the beginning of his learning to make his own choices. And, harder still, the beginning of our allowing them to make choices, little by little, about some things on their own & finding out some things the hard way by making wrong choices -- and our letting go of judgement or preaching and just listening. THIS IS THE HARDEST PART OF BEING A PARENT. hugs to u.

Tabouleh said...

Yes you are correct re the sentence... I am glad it is not as bad as I thought it was... thank you for your reassurance... and you are right... he is growing up and learning about his choices and he will slowly find his two feet and weigh things out himself... this morning I found a straw discarded on the steps and I stooped down to pick it up without saying anything to him... he as behind me and so I am sure it registered and that I need not say anything to him directly... actions do speak louder than words I guess... so sometimes I will point things out and at others, will just do it.

db said...

I agree, Some of both is needed, though actions speak louder than words if the two are incongruent, but then hypocrisy may stand out. But it is OK for them to learn that we are not perfect (they'll let you know soon enough; sounds like Jad is already there :-)

My experience is people (our kids and others) remember what we say and will learn what they will from it, so we need to try to be thoughtful about what we say as best we can.

Regardless, I also agree that you are doing just fine. Your mom was a good model and you are as well. Keep up the good work.

Tabouleh said...

Thank you Peter... I am learning and will always continue to learn... parenting is not an easy job is it... but questioning oneself helps me to continue to strive to get better.

Ofelia said...

Our actions and words do influence our kids and sometimes they choose to follow our advice or points of views and other times they choose to do the opposite.
I think that our children success as adults is to realized that their decisions have consequences and that they are always lessons to learn on those consequences.

Tabouleh said...

Hi Ofelia... you are right... their success depends on realizing that their actions have consequences... we keep trying to teach that... but I wonder sometimes when that sinks in and really cements itself... :)