Monthly Archives: October 2013
Children Are Much More Than How Well They Read

My six year old nephew told me that he is “an artist in the making.” He also knows all the colours on the colour wheel and how they mix and relate to each other. He worries about dying and has a greater vocabulary than any other six-year-old I know. However, he’s not reading as well as some other kids in his class and is feeling very bad about himself. It’s become a big worry for him.


This is what I think: The education system needs to give its head a shake. My nephew is thoughtful and smart with much higher than average emotional intelligence. There is something very wrong with a system that allows a child like this to develop self-esteem issues. We all know that he’ll read. I once took my daughter to a reading specialist because she wasn’t reading like she should and this teacher told me something I will never forget. – “I can teach any child to de-code (read). I never concern myself with that – only with how they think.” A few years later my daughter was identified as gifted and some years after that a teacher gave her class a test to see what kind of learners the students were. My daughter stood alone out of a class of 30 as an auditory learner.


My point here is that many children don’t fit the norm (whatever that is) and a system that doesn’t recognize this needs serious revision. I believe some of the greatest philosophers and thinkers in our past would not have fared well in our present school system. My nephew has the potential to do great things with his life and this could well be thwarted by how he is received in grade one. How sad is this?

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Negotiable or Non-Negotiable

Should parenting be about negotiation? The answer is yes and no. Much of our parenting direction comes from knowing who we are and what we want. Some of these things are up for discussion and some aren’t and it’s important to know what belongs where. For example, one of my “non-negotiables” was that my kids could never swear at me (they could swear, just not at me or my husband). Bedtimes were negotiable. I don’t care much for routine and I didn’t expect it from my kids. When parents don’t know what belongs where, it can result in unnecessary conflict. When we identify our non-negotiable expectations we are more likely to stick unwaveringly to them and kids sense that. Children push the boundaries when they think there is the tiniest bit of room for things to shift in their favour. They become surprisingly compliant when we really mean business, and that means consistency over time and between both parents (if applicable). It goes without saying that “non-negotiables” must reflect our behavior. You can’t have zero tolerance for swearing if you swear at others yourself. Walk your walk and talk your talk.


To know what’s non-negotiable for you, check in with your feelings. They are usually your best indicator. It can take some practice because we come into parenting with many pre-existing “non-negotiables,” usually from our parents, and often persist with those even when they don’t really belong to us. I was raised to never leave the house un-groomed and it took years of fighting about un-brushed hair and low-lying jeans to realize that I just didn’t care. I transferred this to the negotiable pile and my kids and I were much happier! I learned to ask the question, “Is this important to me or does it need to be examined?”

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