Gimme 5! Let Your Kids Get Away With These Things!

Gimme 5!

Tips from a mediocre Mom, neatly packaged in list form…

~Kristine Gresh

This month:

Let your kids get away with these things!

  1. Don’t force them into the “clean plate club.”

Food can be a major source of battle between kids and parents – we want them to be healthy and that means eating vegetables and getting enough protein. However, we have to avoid food becoming a source of stress for them; and we really don’t want to foster a “punishment/reward” way of thinking about food. It’s no secret we definitely have a childhood obesity issue in this country…and forcing kids to eat everything on their plate doesn’t help. It teaches them that the goal of eating is to finish everything, instead of what it should be – to become satiated and decide to stop eating. So, from the beginning, tell your children about good nutrition and about needing certain foods for energy, etc. (Get age appropriate books on this topic if it helps, they are plentiful right now.) Then dish out small portions, let them eat what they want (reminding them what foods are good for what…) and allow them to ask for more if they are still hungry. Don’t push them to finish or threaten to take away a “reward” (especially dessert) if they don’t. It will take some adjustment (as the parent) if your current way is the “clean plate” method, but try it. It will instill healthier food mindsets in a generation that could really use them.

  1. It’s ok if they don’t want to share EVERY toy.

You know you have certain possessions you would never lend out, or at least to people who might not treat them like you do. It’s not being rude, it’s making wise decisions in an effort to better take care of things that might mean a lot to you. Well, give your child the ability to make similar choices. Obviously, kids should learn to share. And they should share most things. However, if they have a special train or doll that they always seem a bit apprehensive about handing over to a pal, respect that. Perhaps even put it away during playdates – you’ll not only show your child that you respect his or her judgment, you’re probably saving yourself from the spat that will ensue when the issue comes up. Easier all around.

  1. Their clothes don’t have to match every day…or even be clean.

When the time comes to start letting your young children pick out their own clothes once in a while… you have to start letting them well, pick out their own clothes once in a while! This can be especially tricky here in the South, where there tends to be a higher population of what I have technically termed “matchy matchy” outfits and parents who adore them. And that’s ok. But it’s also ok to leave those outfits in the dresser sometimes. Parents and children benefit from kids making their own decisions (see “Gimme 5” Installment 1). And come on, as adults we can admit that deciding to wear those favorite jeans (yes…even if they’re in the laundry pile…) or that baseball cap isn’t always about how great you’re going to look, but how you’re going to feel. Sometimes it’s just a baseball cap kind of day. With kids, sometimes it’s just an “old purple dress” or “bright orange socks” kind of day. They have been given the opportunity to choose something that’s normally chosen for them. It’s a big step, let them shine – even if it’s in that old purple dress with the bright orange socks.

  1. Don’t correct grammar, simply use correct grammar.

This is a tough one for me. As a writer and lover of our quirky English language, I have been known to visibly cringe at blatantly incorrect grammar. But it’s important to refrain from verbally correcting it in young children. If you jump in and immediately reprimand a child when he says, “I taked a picture” or maybe, “Can I have the more faster racecar?” you are actually doing more harm than good. Imagine if every time you spoke, you knew you were being judged and your words were probably going to be followed by how it should have been said. You would be less apt to speak freely, right? It would make you feel tense and “on the spot” if you didn’t know exactly how to express something…and that’s the opposite of how we should make our kids feel. The thought process is similar to “phonetic spelling” in elementary school – if you correct every little error, the student will stick to words he knows, not experiment with new ones. Well, same with speaking. Let children speak freely, without fear of being judged. And when you speak, do it properly. They will eventually pick up on it (I promise!) without feeling like they’re being personally attacked.

  1. Allow for slip-ups with everything else.

Ok, maybe not everything else – don’t let them stick things in an outlet or play with light bulbs. Safety issues aside though… the things that are “just-because” rules? Let your kids slide with these sometimes. Let them see (via actual circumstances) that they can “mess up” from time to time and life goes on. If your son forgets to thank the nice baker for that sugar cookie (and it was just that one time…I swear he does it most other times), just politely do it yourself and remind him later about the importance of manners. Or if your daughter asks to stay up a few minutes past her bedtime one night to finish a drawing, give in. When a child senses a bit of flexibility, it can remove the extreme rigidness from a household and replace it with a more relaxed, acceptance-of-mistakes atmosphere. Plus – all rules are just begging to be broken once in a while!

Kristine Gresh is a freelance writer who thinks it’s okay to choose to have just one child, or to enjoy an afternoon cocktail with a friend instead of cleaning…and that it’s definitely okay to jump on hotel beds.

3 thoughts on “Gimme 5! Let Your Kids Get Away With These Things!

  1. I am a huge proponent of not forcing children into the Clean Your Plate club. I was not raised that way, and will only eat till full, whereas my husband will force himself to lick the whole thing clean, only to complain of a tummy ache and an hour of complaining aloud “ugh. why did I finish all that?” followed by an hour at the gym. It’s not wasteful if your child has eaten their full, and I’d rather them be “wasteful” than “obese”.

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