Tag Archives: parenting

When I become a Mother…

18 Jul

I interviewed my mother for my Infant & Toddler Development assignment.  After the interview, we were required to reflect on it.  Here are my thoughts…

My mother has three children including myself, age 25, my brother Steven who is 15 and my brother John who is 12.

She had me when she was just 17 years old, so I came as quite a shock to my family.  My mother did not have another child until I was 10 years old.  She said she hoped to have at least two children.

Her decision to have three children came because she had felt sorry that I had gone 10 whole years without having a sibling.  Then, when my brother Steven was 3, I had become more of a mother figure to him (after all, we were and are 10 years apart).  I was becoming a teenager and like most teenagers are, I was constantly wanting to be around my friends.

That’s when my mother decided that it was time to have another child, my brother John.  She wanted Steven to have a “buddy”, as she puts it.

My mother’s motives did match some of the motives on page 92 of the Berk text.  She had more than one child because she thought we should have siblings.  One aspect that was interesting was that Yolanda’s grandmother mentioned how if she had settled with only one child, that child may have become spoiled.  She also mentioned that she did not think about having children because everyone had them.

I’ve already mentioned this in my response to another student’s post, but I will repeat.  I feel that people years ago had a lot of children.  My mother is one of 6.  This day in age you have the modern mom.  I feel that the 2012 modern mother thinks A LOT about having children, how many children she should have, and what sort of direction she should take as far as parenting tactics go.  There is nothing wrong with this; mothers just think more carefully now as far as family planning goes, than they did in the past.

I do not have any children of my own yet.  I am getting married next year and excited to start a family as soon as we are settled in a home.  When I am pregnant someday, I can imagine that I will be pretty confident about the kind of parents my husband and I will be.  Some concerns will be involved with the birthing process, as it is a scary thing.  I am sure every women is a bit nervous before they give birth though.

My main concerns will have to do with what will occur when the baby comes home.  Can my husband and I be on the same page?  Will I be an extremely paranoid mother?  What sort of changes will my body go through mentally and physically?  Also, will I be a better parent than my parents were to me?  My biggest fear is becoming my mother.  She was not a terrible mother, but she was not the kind of mother that I want to be to my kids.

As it states on page 121 in the Berk text, many parents look to negative experiences from their own childhood in order to understand how they can do it differently.  I really do appreciate the idea about the marital workshops for expectant parents.  That is something I would love to get involved in when my fiance/soon to be husband decide to have a child.

References

Berk, E., Laura. Infants and Children: Prenatal Through Middle Childhood. 7th ed. Pearson Education, Inc. 2012.

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Matching a Child to Literature

24 Apr

 

From the time when a child becomes aware of their surroundings, literature should play some sort of significant role in their lives.  As mentioned in my literature class, children should first be exposed to the picture book; after the picture book,  schemata begins to develop—thus influencing responses, as well as their future encounters with literature.

As adults, what many of us do not realize is that every single child is different in their own way.  Whether it is through knowledge, beliefs, or personal experiences, each of them have an individual thought process.

“As their experience of books and of life widens, children develop more subtle schemata: not only information but also ways of connecting that information to a text’s references to it that allow them to make greater sense of what that read and get deeper pleasure from it” (Nodelman text, page 53).

I believe that schemata are developed by what children experience at a young age; their thought process is affected by both literature and their own personal situations.  As explained in the Nodelman text, everyone has different experiences of language and of life.  Each reader gets something different out of the same story.  Everyone has a different meaning of the shared text; a different schemata.  I apply this theory to the idea that there are specific stories that may be appropriate for certain types of children.  In stories such as:  Frog and Toad Are Friends, Hansel and Gretel, and Robin Hood, specific types of children that have experienced certain things, may develop an appreciation or salutation for these stories

that you and I have not.

I myself was a child raised in a single-parent household before my step-father came into my life.  Frog and Toad Are Friends were books that I often read to myself, by myself, in my room.  I remember feeling comfort in reading the series.  Frog and Toad were the best of friends and would do anything for each other.  The concept made me feel like I wasn’t alone; as an only child with my Mother working, I often did feel alone.  The Letter from the Frog and Toad books is a story in which a child raised by a single parent can find gratification.  In the reading, Toad expresses to his friend Frog how when the mail comes, he feels sad because he never typically receives any letters.  Frog then rushes home, and begins writing a letter to his friend Toad:

“Dear Toad, I am glad that you are my best friend.  Your best friend, Frog.”

They both wait for the letter together and four days letter, the snail delivers it.  The moral and value in the story is clear and simple; you are not alone and you will always have someone to lift your spirits.  This happy little story does just that.  The little ways that Frog and Toad show their comradery is admirable.  It almost feels as if they are friends of yours.  Personally, I felt content as a child knowing that Frog and Toad were there for comfort if I was not feeling it at home.

A child in foster care may also feel a similar emptiness as a child that is raised in a single-parent household.  Frog and Toad Are Friends would too be a great series for that particular type of child, as would Hansel and Gretel.  A popular theme which existed in the Brothers Grimm fairytales was child abandonment.  Foster children may often get that often feeling of neglect that can be identified when reading Hansel and Gretel, as they too were abandoned by their father and step-mother.  This is not the only reason why this particular type of child would receive gratification from this story.  Hansel and Gretel is an adventurous story of two young children that must fend for themselves in pursue of food and shelter.  When they come to a house made out of candy and gingerbread, they find all that they have been denied, as well as a saving grace for the reason in which they were abandoned in the first place.  They then run into trouble when they encounter a witch that wants to turn them into supper.  The story is exciting and surprisingly it has a happy ending, locating their father who wanted them after all and discovering riches in Gretel’s apron.

A child in foster care reading this story will most likely identify with the characters.  Having felt abandoned themselves, children will already have schemata before indulging in the reading.  They will also be “rooting” for Hansel and Gretel, thus receiving a sense of satisfaction when in fact the children come out of that terrible situation with pearls, jewels, and their father.  This story can give these children a moment to escape, possibly even giving them hope that they too will one day have their happy ending, just as Hansel and Gretel did.

Who does not enjoy a happy ending, especially when a character’s hardships are relatable?  However, what if the child has never felt any grief, or experienced any hardships?  These children would be recognized as purely common.  They too would find enjoyment from the same stories read by those with single parents or children in foster care, but particular schemata will influence a reader’s specific comprehension of the messages portrayed.  It is agreeable that “normal” children or children that are eager to read exciting texts, would most likely find gratification in a story such as The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.  Robin Hood is an exciting character; honorable, heroic, funny, giving and loyal.  Yet, Robin Hood is still known at a trouble-causing bandit; the outlaw of Sherwood Forest who defended the poor.  According to the Zipes text, the stories reach many different social classes and age groups (page 461).  Robin Hood stories are adventurous, and romantic; he is a character that many children would like to impersonate, as the readings will trigger excitement and imagination.  Stories such as those with a character like Robin Hood have the ability to reach the common child; children that do not have as many worries as the other types of children mentioned.  All the common child looks for is adventure during their stages of innocence.

By applying the theory of schemata to the idea of matching a certain type of children with a particular story, we can begin to understand how information is interpreted based on prior knowledge, as well as experiences.  In reference to the lecture from my class, I must agree that the appropriate literature for children will have an enormous amount of influence on the way in which they view themselves and the world.  It will also influence the choices that a child will make presently, as well as in the future.  Literature and experience go hand-in-hand, thus emphasizing the importance of our schemata.

My explanation of schemata:

I had hoped I was utilizing schemata in the correct context.  I will explain to you what I believe the meaning of schemata is.

After reading in the Nodelman text as well as from a few sources on the internet, I decided that schemata was more of philosophical and or psychological understandings.  Children (in this case) possess a certain schemata based on experience.  I see schemata as a way of viewing the world as a result of something a child may have experienced.  I also see it as a way of looking at the reasoning behind a child’s cognitive process.

For example, a child of innocence may get something different out of a story like “Hansel and Gretal” than let’s say an orphan child would.  A child of innocence may view the story as adventurous, focusing on the fight to survive against the witch, or the excitement of the candy house even.

An orphan child may hone in on the fact that Hansel and Gretal were abandoned.  It may reach this particular child on another level (possibly emotionally) due to the experience he or she may have.  In other words, the story could “hit home” for them, so to speak.  Therefore, I referred to schemata being as a response that a child may have to a story.  I was arguing that schemata is heavily influenced by a child’s life experiences.  I then applied these ideas to my reasoning behind why I choose each story for each particular child.

Discipline: When have you gone too far, or not far enough?

31 Mar

Now as I’ve mentioned many times before, I myself do not have any children of my own.  However, I have had to discipline my fair share of kiddies over the past few years and let me tell you something, it is down…right…DRAINING!  First of all, you do not want to discipline a child.  It makes you feel bad, them feel bad, and it could possibly ruin a great part of the day.  First, I want to talk a little bit about why discipline is necessary.  Then, I’d like to touch what I would constitute as fair discipline (what is allowed, what isn’t allowed, etc).

In my opinion, discipline is very necessary.  Give them an inch, they take a mile.  It is NORMAL.  Do you remember when you were a kid?  Most people don’t.  I have a memory like an elephant (so they say).  I can actually remember what my house in Florida looked like when I was just 2 years old.  I can remember what my great grandmother’s apartment smelled like, as well as her meatballs; correction, World’s BEST Meatballs!  Anyway, you get the gist.  Being a child was rough.  I think it was more confusing than adulthood is (for me at least).  I’d much rather be an adult than a child.  Nonetheless, kids require attention (yes even the older ones).  So why do kids act up?  Typically, yes, it will be for the purpose of obtaining attention of some sort.  The way to handle these children is to try and IGNORE the bad behavior and focus on the good.

By giving a child attention for something they do that is negative, you are reinforcing that negative behavior.  They are now associating it with attention.  “If I pour milk on Johnny’s head, then I will be the center of the show again today!” or whatever the case may be.  Sounds silly I know, but I do believe this to be true.  Like I said, try focusing on POSITIVE behavior.  Go with the saying, positive behavior receives positive attention, negative behavior gets nothing at all.  I’m not saying not to scold a child or put them in time-out if you have to, but if that doesn’t work the first time then chances are, they are trying to get a rise out of you.  Have control and do not allow this to happen.

Another reason why children act up is to reinstate the control in which they have over either you, or their parents.  In my book, these are called the BAD children.  Why are they bad you ask?  Because their parents allow themselves to be walked all-over.  Sounds harsh, but it’s the truth!  Quite frankly, times have changed.  When I was a kid (and we are not talking about the 60’s and 70’s here, for I am quite young), my parents never let me get away with anything.  They never hit.  But I always listened.  If I did not listen, I did not get what I wanted.  If I did not do my homework, I did not get to play outside.  If I bothered my little brother, I did not get to go to the skating rink.  One time, I talked back.  I said something bad.  Do you know what happened?  My television was removed from my room for the entire summer.  Gosh, I loved T.V.  Do you know what it’s like to have a MTV-watching, 13-year-old’s television taken away from her?  It was pure torture.  But I did something wrong, and my parents stuck to their guns.  Now that I am an adult and I can look back on it, I admire them for it.  They did not give in to many things when it came to raising me and I must say, what they got out of it was a pretty hard-working, humble woman with a good head on her shoulders (if I do say so myself).

Ok, so enough about me.  The reason why I said that times are changing is because I feel that this generation of children (especially the VERY young ones) are the dictators of American households.  Many Moms and Dads in this country give their children wayyy too many options in life.  If your child is 4 years old, there should not be a 15-minute debacle  as to what they want to eat for dinner.  Your home is not a restaurant and your child should not have control over a situation such as this.  I am getting to my point now.  If you give your child control in those situations, then the very second that you take that control away, if the child is bold enough, they will FLIP on you.

We can sit here and talk for days about what is the correct way to discipline a child.  I have two rules:

1.)  Stick to your guns

2.)  Never, ever, hit.

Seriously, what kind of sick, twisted monster hits their child nowadays?  It’s 2012 people, not 1845!  If you hit your child whenever you get angry then chances are, they will go to school and hit others when they are angry too.  I heard on the news (now I’ve got to find this article) that people who have patience with children are able to control a specific part of their brain that many other people cannot.  I believe ANYONE can have patience.  The key to having patience is not losing control.  Don’t get caught up in the moment and let your emotions take the best of you.  If you can achieve this, then you have won the most important battle when it comes to raising kids and that’s conquering yourself as a parent.

Please do not mistake my advice as too over-the-top or presumptuous.  It’s just that I’ve seen it too many times.  In all reality, it does make me cringe.  Please remember that you are the parent.  You are the boss.  Your child is not old enough to make sound and or orthodox decisions in life.  That’s why you are there; to guide your little one on this terrific journey.  Trust me, there will be plenty of time for you to step back and allow them to make their own choices–and that comes much, much later.  For now, let them be kids, let yourself be a Mommy or Daddy, and ENJOY it while it lasts!

P.S.  I am giving this advice to parents because you have the most influence on your child.  Nannies are forced to discipline at times, so the same rules apply for us as well!

Photo Courtesy of punishmentforchildren.com

St. Patrick’s Day Pot o’ Gold

13 Mar

Items Needed:

Mini Milk carton, emptied and rinsed, with the top half cut off

One pipe cleaner

Buttons

Hot Glue Gun

Gold Paint

Black Paint

Paint Brushes

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DIRECTIONS:

Have the child(ren) paint the milk carton black, then set out on a newspaper to dry

Have them paint the buttons gold.  Set those out to dry as well

Hot glue the pipe cleaner tips onto the inside of the milk carton to act as a handle (or punch holes in carton and twist them on)

After the buttons (coins) are dried, have the child(ren) count them.

You can even play a leprechaun hide-and-seek game by hiding the coins and giving out clues on where they are.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY 2012!

Battling Stranger Anxiety

31 Jan

     Stranger anxiety amongst children can be frustrating for both parents and Nannies alike.  In these cases the child is typically comfortable with Mommy, Daddy, and caregiver ONLY.  I’ve experienced this issue first-hand and would like to share some tips and tricks on how to help a child in overcoming their stranger-anxiety hurdle.

First off, please understand that other people do not know your child the way you do.  Whether you are his or her parent or Nanny, you are the ones that spend the most time with the child.  Notice that the image I used for this blog post is that of a t-shirt from Zazzle.com.  I think many Nannies (including myself) get frustrated with strangers.  We’ve seen it a million times before; they make silly faces, baby talk, and unnecessarily ask for high fives.  I get it, who doesn’t love a cute baby?  But what strangers don’t get is that not every child is going to be comfortable with being approached.  Unfortunately, when they realize it there is a child wailing while they are frantically apologizing and walking away.  Ah, if only every child with this issue can have a t-shirt like the one shown above.

The severity of the problem depends on the age factor.  Babies can have anxiety when surrounded by unfamiliar people.  My own personal opinion is that you should be exposing your child to new people as often as possible.  Enlisting in various activities can make this possible.  Examples: story time, the park, play school, time with different babysitters, and play-dates.  Also, creating a photo album of friends and family they’ve never met before is a great tactic to get a child to understand that strangers exist all around.

Also, please remember that a sure-fire way to overcome stranger anxiety is time.  Don’t forget that even though your child may be growing, a language barrier still exists.  When he or she is able to talk more, they will be able to understand–thus having the ability to communicate their feelings with you.  So, with a little exposure, time, and patience, your child will be less anxious, and a little more accepting to those who are unfamiliar to them.

If you are calm, they will calm down.