An Old-Fashioned Set of Directions for Parents
By: Mary Fagan on: Wed 24 of Oct, 2007 [10:56 UTC] (1524 reads)
“I wish raising kids came with a set of directions,” said my friend, totally befuddled and full of self-doubt after her latest go-round with her son.
I contend that it wouldn’t matter. Parental guidance directions would be just like homework. People wouldn’t follow them, they’d lose them, the cat would pee on them, their baby cousin would eat them, they wouldn't understand them, they’d break them, they’d make up their own or they’d say they tried them when they didn’t.
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And why reinvent the wheel? Parenting wisdom can be found in the strangest of places, sometimes right in front of our noses like in the typical childhood games from yesteryear. While there are some great new games, others like CSI Senses (since when is a crime scene fun?), Fact or Crap (that’s is REAL name), or Balderdash (practice how to lie convincingly) aren’t in the same league as some old standbys.
Take dominoes - the little black and white building blocks for common sense that no one plays anymore. Let me connect the dots for you.
Dominoes string out a series of fun lessons about planning, predictability, and consequences. Playing with them can stimulate a young beginner, yet they have the versatility to challenge a mature mind as the complexity construction can be adjusted to fit the developmental stage of the individual.
Predictability is learned from setting things in motion. One flick of a finger and the fruit of your labor plays out before your eyes. The builder can see clearly what their hard work made possible, and how fragile it is as their younger sibling stomps in the room and sets everything into motion prematurely. (Just count the lessons in self-control and anger management waiting to be tapped into!)
More importantly, dominoes demonstrate that once you set something in motion, there is no turning back. Just think of all the trouble certain young pop stars could have saved themselves if they had just spent more time playing dominoes than making music videos featuring their backsides in motion.
Children can learn skills like getting along with others, planning, strategy, the value of practice, and creative problem solving from games like Pick Up Sticks, Apples to Apples, Tiddly Winks, Checkers, Jacks, Yatzee, Bingo, Scrabble, or Monopoly with you. Basic math skills are also reinforced when keeping score, and heaven knows it’s a lot easier to keep score when you can put two and two together.
(Now if my friend’s had played games he would have known that if you run the car out of gas miles away from home during the wee hours of the morning, it would be a cold day in hell before he’d be behind the wheel without getting grilled about what direction he’s headed and if he had enough gas to pass go.)
And lastly, don’t forget that playing games provides plenty of opportunities for learning to become a graceful winner and/or loser.
And with any luck, the kids will learn this too.
Mary Fagan has an M.S. in Education and is the mother of three children with the gray hairs to prove it. When not watching them closely, she offers lighthearted parenting humor at http://motherwise.us.