5. It doesn't matter when something is learned. It is perfectly all right for a person to learn
all about dinosaurs when they are 40; they don't have to learn it when they are 9. It is perfectly all right to
learn to do long division at 16 - they do not have to learn that at 9, either. It does not get more difficult to
learn most things later; it gets easier.
6. Don't worry about how fast or slow they are learning. Don't test them to see if they are
"up to speed." If you nurture them in a supportive environment, your children will grow and learn at
their own speed, and you can trust in that process. They are like seeds planted in good earth, watered and
fertilized. You don't keep digging up the seeds to see if the roots are growing - that disrupts the natural
growing process. Trust your children in the same way you trust seeds to sprout and seedlings to develop into
strong and healthy plants.
7. Think about what is really important and keep that always in the forefront of your
interactions with your children. What values do you hope to pass on to them? You can't pass on something you
don't exemplify yourself. Treat them the way you want them to treat others. Do you want respect? Be respectful.
Do you want responsibility from them? Be responsible. Think of how you look to them, from their perspective. Do
you order them around? Is that respectful? Do you say, "I'll be just a minute" and then take 20 more
minutes talking to a friend while the children wait? Is that responsible? Focus more on your own behavior than
on theirs. It'll pay off bigger.
8. Let kids learn. Don't protect them or control them so much that they don't get needed
experience. But, don't use the excuse of "natural consequences" to teach them a lesson. Instead,
exemplify kindness and consideration. If you see a toy left lying in the driveway, don't leave it there to be
run over, pick it up and set it aside because that is the kind and considerate thing to do and because kindness
and consideration are values you want to pass on to your kids. Natural consequences will happen; they are
inevitable. But it isn't "natural" anymore if you could have prevented it, but chose not to do so.
9. We can't always fix everything for our kids or save them from every hurt. It can be a
delicate balancing act - when should we intervene, when should we stay out of the way? Empathy goes a long, long
way and may often be all your child needs or wants. Be available to offer more, but let your child be your
guide. Maybe your child wants guidance, ideas, support, or intervention. Maybe not. Sometimes the best thing you
can offer is distraction.
10. Be sensitive to your child's interest level. Don't push activities that your child isn't
interested in pursuing. Don't let your interests dictate your child's opportunities. If your child wants
a pet, be realistic and don't demand promises that the child will take sole care for it. Plan to care for it
yourself when the interest wanes. Do it cheerfully. Model the joy of caring for animals. Model kindness and
helpfulness. Help a child by organizing their toys so they are easy to care for. Plan to care for them yourself
much of the time, but invite your child's help in ways that are appealing. If you act like you hate
organizing and cleaning, why would your child want to do it? Always openly enjoy the results of caring for your
possessions - take note of the extra space to play in, the ease of finding things you want, how nice it is to
reach into a cupboard and find clean dishes. Enjoy housework together and don't make it a battle.
11. Don't pass on your own fears and hates about learning anything. If you hate or fear math,
keep it to yourself. Act like it is the most fun thing in the world. Cuddle up and do math in the same way you
cuddle up and read together. Play games, make it fun. If you can't keep your own negativity at bay, at least try
to do no harm by staying out of it.
12. Don't try to "make kids think." They will think; you don't have to make them.
Don't use every opportunity to force them to learn something. They will learn something at every
opportunity, you don't have to force it. Don't answer a question by telling them to "look it up" or by
asking them another question. If you know the answer, give it. If you don't, then help them find it. Speculating
about an answer often leads to a good conversation. If your child stops seeing you as helpful when they have
questions, they'll stop coming to you with their questions. Is that what you really want?
13. When you offer a child choices, be sure they are real choices. Offer them choices as often as you
can. Try to limit the "have to's" as much as you can. Frequently ask yourself, "Is this really a
"have to" situation or can we find some choices here?"