Words Matter.

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Words Matter

What’s in a word? When I say a word an image, an action or maybe an idea spring to your mind.

In my last newsletter I wrote about the difference between discipline and punishment. Since that time other words being mis-used by parents and parenting experts have come across my desk.

You can’t talk about discipline without mentioning consequences. A consequence is a result. Every action has a reaction and that reaction is the consequence. So, if I type the letters l-e-t-t-e-r on my keyboard you see the work letter.

But in googling around the internet I see that there are supposed parenting experts explaining that you need to find whatever your particular child cherishes and take it away when he misbehaves. Or ask him to do something he would hate or would embarrassing to him. These are not consequences. This is plain and simply punishment and operates on the premise that if we shame, upset or distress a child he will learn right from wrong.

Linda Brauer, a reader of my newsletter commented by quoting the late Jane Nelsen, Ph.D., who said, “A good consequence is Related, Respectful, and Reasonable, so they don’t become Resentful, Revengeful, or Retreat (and wonder why they even try). The 3Rs helped me, in the heat of the moment, when raising my own kids!”

The most offensive word is spanking. When I say that we need to end physical punishment of children most people agree. But, then they add that spanking is okay. Spanking is a word we have created to make the hitting of children seem benign. No matter what term you use, when you move your hand or an object toward the body of a child you are hitting, smacking or swatting that child and calling it spanking does not make it acceptable.

On more than one occasion I have seen the word brat and the context was to get rid of the inherent brattiness in kids. Now definitions of brat vary slightly but basically a brat is an ill-mannered, unruly, spoiled or impolite child. So when we talk about wanting to execise the brattiness from kids, we imply that they are instinctively brats.
No way.

Sure there are kids who can behave in ways that are ill-mannered, unruly, spoiled or impolite and in that case we need to work with the child to change the behavior. But generally kids are active, curious and fun little people who want to please the adults who care about them.

So let’s stop talking about getting rid of brattiness and instead talk about encouraging the good and wonderful in our children.

Recently I read an article suggesting Moms need to be more selfish. In reading the article I realized that the author was really talking about taking care or yourself and maintaining some balance in your life. In other words, you need to look after your children’s needs but not necessarily their wants and make time to look after your needs. This is not selfish, it is simply good mental health.

My final word for today is sacrifice. It is not a dirty word and once you have children it is a given you will have to sacrifice. But not to the point of being a martyr. This is, of course, connected with being selfish in a healthy and positive way.

So remember, watch your language. It is the way we communicate to our children.

What Every Child Should Do Before The Age of 12.

On a totally different note, I received a great list from ParticipACTION. June 21 is the longest day of the year so they note that this gives families more time to play. They have created 24 things very Canadian child should do before the age of 12.

1.       Experience total weightlessness at the top of a swing

2.       Skip stones across water

3.       Play leap frog

4.       Hang upside down from a tree limb

5.       Jump into water cold enough that it almost takes their breath away

6.       Throw rocks or snowballs at a post from a distance until they get a bulls eye

7.       Ride a bike with no hands

8.       Paddle a canoe

9.       Piggyback someone

10.   Roll down a big hill

11.   Try a sport that requires a helmet

12.   Collect something in a forest

13.   Make up a dance routine

14.   Slide down something on a piece of cardboard

15.   Build a fort

16.   Hike somewhere for a picnic

17.   Bury someone they love in the sand

18.   Play outside in the rain

19.   Jump in a pile of leaves

20.   Make a snow angel

21.   Fly a kite

22.   Create an obstacle course

23.   Swim in a lake or an ocean

24.   Make up a game involving a ball


“Active, outdoor play is an essential part of every Canadian childhood,” says Elio Antunes, President and CEO of ParticipACTION, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation. “As the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card reminds us, all kids need regular opportunities to let loose, run around, make mistakes and make their own fun.  The Longest Day of Play reminds us that an active childhood includes freedom to play.”

Which of these have you done? What is your favourite of these activities? Let’s hear from you.



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2 Responses to Words Matter.

  1. Denise says:

    We had a scavenger hunt in a nearby park, boys versus the girls finding items from nature (dandelions, a red pebble, a pinecone, etc). A great time was had by all and it was not hard to organize!
    We also enjoy geocaching (aka treasure hunt) and made our own course in this same park for a birthday party.

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