Monday, January 2, 2012

Raising Funny Kids 5


Disciplining children has long been associated with a set of rules, rewards and punishments administered to teach self-control, increase desirable behaviors and decrease undesirable ones. 

I have long since advocated for the exclusion of the "reward vs. punishment" methodology in raising my own kids, considering it conspicuously old-fashioned, notably anachronistic. Yet, this theory is continually put to the test by... life. LOL

For example, my son and I have had a number of discussions about his leaving the television set on at night. We have discussed the matter with respect to the fact that many electronic devices, television sets and computer screens with cathode ray tubes (CRT), can potentially create low-level x-rays that are not good for the body. Understandably, most of our discussions have been focused on health and well being. 

We've also discussed my disconnecting the television at night until he is capable of doing so himself, explaining that my interest is not in punishing him but rather in protecting his health. Then, each morning I enter his room, I am greeted by soft silent glow of Sponge Bob or Phineas and Ferb on a television set that stayed on all night. 

Staying true to my philosophy while ensuring his health has been a challenge in the back of my mind as to how to solve it. Then, last night, the lightbulb went on - a timer. 

When I asked my son what he thought of the idea, he said, "Wow! That's a great idea Mom. Now I can relax and not worry about it." You should have seen the look on his face. It was priceless. It was like together we had beat the "reward vs. punishment" theory with a $20 power strip timer. I could literally see the wheels turning in his mind, has he wondered in which other areas of his life he could apply this new concept. 

Each day, I ask my kids to tell me a joke. At first, they're annoyed with the task. Then, once they choose a joke from our collection of joke books, they end up reading off another 10 or so just for the fun of it. Immediately, they're making up their own. My son rattles off a series of zany Knock, Knock jokes while my daughter's more subtle, sophisticated wordplay comes out during discussions when she inserts a clever pun. She's been delighted by a recent descriptor added to her personal identity - Punster

At 16 years old, she said, "I didn't know I could be funny," with a pleased twinkle in her eye denoting that she thoroughly enjoyed the idea. 

If we're lucky, parenthood can bring out the best in us. Being a hero in the eyes of our children is an experience so profound that it is dwarfed by human language. 

Take a moment to truly evaluate what you child's day-to-day experiences in life might "feel" like. That's usually the best place to start when you run into a snag or find yourself wondering what to do to solve a problem or improve a general situation. Their gleaming smiles will tell you when you've inspired them to apply those ideas elsewhere. 

Lao Tzu (6th century) said, "Because of deep love, one is courageous."  
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