Extension Office Enlightenment

The big task of parenting littles
Haley Barker and Ashley House
Thursday, January 2, 2020

As I sat down to write this article, I looked up some great quotes on parenting, and if you are a parent and need a laugh, I suggest looking up a few.

One quote stuck out to me as I was scrolling, “life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.”

I am unsure of the original author of this quote, but it got me thinking. While I still look to my mother for guidance — and childcare — I also look at my schedule this past week.

With multiple evening meetings, I couldn’t be at each event without the help of my husband, who graciously cares for our son during these times.  While I, as a new mother, struggle to be away from my son during these times, I know he is in great care with his dad and developing the bond between the two.

Which leads me to my topic today — parenting. Boy is it tough, because children really don’t come with a manual, and parents often question “am I doing this right?” And while there are a variety of theories related to child development and parenting, I’m going to focus on one portion of parenting, discipline.

Although discipline means to teach or guide, the term is frequently associated with punishment, according to the 2016 publication “Discipline: A Parent’s Guide for Preschoolers.” 

The goal is to teach children to act appropriately in public with friends, family and in the community.

But children are bound to make mistakes and misbehave. Sometimes it may be that “littles” lack the attention span to carry out certain tasks, or remember to perform certain repeated tasks, such as taking off their shoes when they walk in the door.  Those are situations in which it is the responsibility of parents to guide children in reaching these goals.

Sometimes it feels children misbehave to make parents’ lives miserable, to quote Jerry Seinfeld, “having a 2-year old is like owning a blender that you don’t have a top for” and while it may feel this way, there is a reason for their misbehavior.  When a child misbehaves the first step is to determine why.  Assessing the child’s needs, are they tired, hungry, scared, stressed, overwhelmed or hurt?  Then assess yourself, are you experiencing any of those emotions, children quickly pick up on others’ emotions, and understanding behavior will help to understand the child’s misbehavior.  Next is to communicate expectations, when correcting a child remember to talk about the behavior, that needs changing not about the child.

The challenge is to not lose your temper while consistently repeating the direction, should you choose to accept it! Lastly the age ol’ time out! There are times when youngsters are simply out of control and cannot be calmed, or the child is very strong willed, and no other strategy works.

At this time, a time out may provide for an opportunity for the child to gather their own feelings and thoughts and calm down.

Children need to learn how to control their tempers, however, young children do not know how to regulate their feelings yet, so providing a safe, stimulation free space to decompress is the way to go.

But how long should a child be “sentenced” to time out? Some ideas are to equate the minutes to the age of the child, so a 3-year-old would receive three minutes of time out, as sitting any longer may be difficult and not necessarily effective. An older child may be given time out and allowed to go play when they can say they are calm.  Just some parenting tips as we round out 2019 and head into the new year.

many workshops, club Christmas parties, Parade of Lights, and community involvement.

As the 2019 year wraps up, we want to remind our community that we couldn’t do this program without all of their support and we thank you. We Need You!

•Volunteer as a project leader or put on a workshop or two. Please consider sharing your skills or area of expertise to the youth of our county. (you create your own schedule and workshops.)

•Financially sponsor an award, various scholarships (camp scholarships, senior scholarships, STEM, others), general Stillwater 4-H account for advertising, recruitment, etc.

Such donations and sponsorships are tax deductable and we can send you a receipt and letter for your donation or contribution.

Thank you in advance for your support and help to ensure that our kids get to experience this great program, that will benefit their lives and others, for years to come.

Contact us at 322-8035 or stillwater@montana.edu