Early lessons learned

Days 4 and 5 of the No Criticism project have not been easy.

I couldn’t help recalling that when I a read an example of this in a book, it involved a father and a teenage daughter. It did not involve homeschool, and it did not involve younger children who need a fair amount of guidance and reminders throughout the day, plus some correction of errors.

The reason I couldn’t help recalling this was because yesterday I found myself frequently getting annoyed with children who were not doing what they were supposed to and were in desperate need of parental guidance, which has been in short supply over the last few weeks what with all the parental sickness.

Some conclusions:

When I am busy but my children don’t have anything in particular they are supposed to be doing, we have potential problems. Yes, of course they will play together, but then they will fight, and then they will say terrible things to each other and behave very poorly, and then they will loudly attempt to justify that behavior. In such a situation, when I am trying to accomplish other things (e.g., earn the house payment or meet a looming deadline), a harsh or critical tone is nearly impossible to avoid.

Right now, between deadlines, upcoming travel, and lingering illness, there’s not a lot to do about that, but in the long term the lesson is Routines Routines Routines, and frequent fill-ups of parental attention, especially for the 6yo.

Another key lesson: Six year olds cannot be ten year olds, no matter how clever or articulate they may seem. There is a reason this point is repeated in the educational literature over and over: It is totally obvious, yet very very easy to forget. In other words, inappropriate parental expectations may lead to excessive criticism.

I won’t even get into trying not to criticize my husband! Like many married couples, we tease a lot. And like many married couples, sometimes we hide criticism under the teasing. Predictably, sometimes the teasing doesn’t quite cover the barb underneath, and then, look out!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Early lessons learned

  1. I admire you for trying despite all the challenges you face! We have the same problem here whenever my girls are don’t have something specific to do and I’m trying to get something done and I have to remind myself that a 2yo is not a 6yo and can’t be expected to entertain herself for as long no matter how much I’d like her too. I know I’d also start out doing ok with this challenge in the morning but by 5:00 my patient is shot and most things I say are critical. I sending you lots of good wishes!

  2. I appreciate the honesty of your posts and am learning a great deal from your experiences. Thank you.

  3. I did well yesterday. I am not off to a very good morning today.

    I found out that Z got a 60% (60%!!!) on her last Lightning Lit lesson because she didn’t really finish it. She said she had questions she wanted to ask me and then forgot to ask me. *frown*

    I am suspicious that it was easy for her to forget because she wanted to be done quickly so she could go on her forums.

    And then she was doing a math problem and she came up with the most circuitous method for solving it when really there was an easier one step method that we had been using all along. I got sarcastic and criticized her. 😦 I admit it.

    One thing I have noticed is that I am pretty sarcastic. I have caught myself about to say something sarcastic/critical and then softening my voice and meaning mid sentence… I wonder if she is noticing.

  4. Molly

    I have made the same mistake many a time — expecting intelligent, articulate children to behave as if they are years older than they are. Thanks for the reminder. And the Routine, Routine, Routine lesson is also one I learn again and again (and I don’t even homeschool). Also found myself “teasing” the hubby — totally knew what I was doing (silent “dumbass” on the end), and he probably did too. This little project is not easy but I still thank you for the inspiration and the updates. Now, go enjoy the tropics!

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