I’ll admit it… I tweet. I joined the “Twitterverse” a few years ago and have recently made a concerted effort to use Twitter more in my professional work with students and families. (www.twitter.com/soapboxmommy in case you’re wondering…)
A few weeks ago, I was intrigued by a tweet from @BookQuotes: You can’t soar like an eagle when you hang out with turkeys. I was immediately struck by this poignant, philosophical use of 140 characters or less.
As I reflected on these 60 characters, I couldn’t help but apply them not only to my own life, but to the lives of my kids. Especially as they’re beginning a new school year. As a mom… I want to steer my kids towards eagles, not turkeys. (And more importantly, I want my kids to be eagles themselves.)
Luckily my kids are blessed to be surrounded by great peers, many of whom I know or am getting to know their parents. Their school works to foster parent involvement and to support parent-teacher communication. But, despite my best efforts now to control their immediate environments, as they grow and develop into more dynamic and independent individuals, there will come a day when the choice will be theirs: the eagle or the turkey?
To help your kids (from preschool to high school) soar despite peer and societal pressures, consider these tips for promoting self-discipline and personal discernment:
Communicate continuously. Know who your kids are with and what they’re doing. Ask about their day, their friends, their interests. Make time to meet your child’s friends and their parents. Be a class chaperone, host a play date, or attend sporting events and practices. Meet your child’s teachers and coaches. When it comes to your kids, get in the loop and stay in the loop.
Convey your expectations. When your kids know what you expect, they’re more likely to act accordingly both in and away from your presence. Children develop the ability to reason around age 5, but they understand rules (spoken and unspoken) much earlier. For example, my kiddos are quick to let a sitter (or grandparent!) know if a TV show comes on that isn’t allowed. Or they’re quick to point out if they hear a word that’s not okay to use at our house. For better or worse, the external dialogue that you have with your children about what is and isn’t acceptable becomes their inner voice. As they grow, this inner voice becomes their conscience that governs their choices when you’re not around.
Encourage positive choices. Be sure that you’re giving credit and praise when it’s due. When children are small, recognize and celebrate the little milestones. Sharing with a friend, being quiet in the library, helping a sibling without being asked (or maybe after being asked a dozen times!). Nevertheless, praise their effort! All too often parents (myself included) are quick to point out the negatives — What not to do — but don’t celebrate the positives as much as we should. It’s far easier to do more of what works than it is to change what doesn’t. As your child ages and matures, they’ll notice that you notice.
Thought for today: Eagle or Turkey?
Practicing What I Preach: This past year we moved mid-school year. (It’s not something I’d recommend if you can help it!) Needless to say, we all had to adjust and adapt to our new environments… which included making new friends. Now, believe it or not, I’m an introvert at heart. I’d rather give a lecture to 200 people than chit-chat with a select few. Thankfully the novelty of our move has worn off and we’re beginning a new school year on Day #1. My resolution: To move outside of my comfort zone and volunteer more in my kids’ classes beginning with my new role as a Room Representative (with duties such as calling and emailing the parents to organize class parties and events). Sure my schedule is booked to the max… but that’s all the more reason for me to get in the loop and stay in the loop where my kids are concerned. I want them to know that I’m never too busy to keep an eye on what’s going on in their lives.