In tech circles the concept of “failing fast” is common – get a prototype running and if it’s going to fail find out as quickly as possible to move onto the next iteration. What does this have to do with parenting? Well, this is a discussion on quitting.
My eldest has recently picked up a habit of starting something and not seeing it through. He started cub scouts as some of his friends were involved and kept talking about it at school. After the 4th or 5th week he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore and wanted to quit. At this point I recalled being forced into activities as a young lad and I didn’t want to put my son through that so I let it go.
Since then some extra-curricular activities have come up at school and my son has again started and not seen them through, so now it’s starting to become a pattern and I’m not the only one to recognize it. He’s been practicing for a speaking part in an upcoming play and he is actually quite good, however he didn’t get the part and is in the ensemble instead. It seems his “lack of commitment” has been noticed by others.
We talked about this latest let down and I pointed out the importance of committing to something to the end if we say we’ll do it. Other people are depending on us and if we quit part way through we’re letting them down. He considered this and then he said I quit at work all the time. Perplexed as I was I asked him to explain – he’d heard me discussing the concepts around “failing fast” with my wife and drew his own conclusion that it’s the same as quitting and it must be OK!
I pointed out that failing fast still takes commitment and has a predefined goal or test to decide whether to go on or not. This isn’t the same as deciding you no longer want to continue and then drop out, leaving others in the lurch.
A simple misunderstanding from overhearing my wife and I talking one evening. Just goes to show how much they pick up and without a full understanding themselves, they’ll fill in the gaps with whatever they have.
There’s no doubt that the early years are tough, especially with your first as you really don’t know what you’re doing. The second is easier but still a challenge, but at least you have a bit of a toolkit of what works to draw upon. Of course every child is different so what worked for the first may not work for the second, but you need a starting point.
Here’s our list of the 5 most useful things that worked for our boys, starting from birth and going up to the age of 3.
1. White Noise
If you haven’t heard of white noise, it’s constant background noise like a fan or vacuum. Those noises aren’t what we’d normally consider as pleasant, but can be very soothing to an infant as well as the sound of waves or a heartbeat. Playing white noise softly near your sleeping newborn helps to keep them settled and masks other background noises that might wake them. Worked wonders for our boys. You can find MP3s available for download and then play them on a loop.
Many people fall into 1 of 2 camps – pacifier or not. For us the pacifier has worked and unlike a sucked thumb, can be taken away and provided only when needed. If the pacifier is used for sleeping and when upset and not when playing it makes weaning them off a lot easier. For settling an upset baby a pacifier can be nothing short of miraculous!
3. Baby Swing
Our first would settle fairly easily for nap time but our second always wanted to know what was going on and was a real struggle. Enter the baby swing. If you haven’t been exposed to these you need to google them. We bought one of the high end Fisher Price swings and it made nap-time settling of our youngest a hands off affair so we could be cleaning up or making lunches.
OK, don’t judge us! Seriously, from the age of 2 onwards children are very switched on and curious. Providing an iPad gives them the chance to discover how to use it independently and also be in control of the games they want to play. We only download education games like counting, or problem solving games like puzzles. As they get older the complexity of the games can be increased and move onto spelling and math puzzles. The iPads also keep them very quiet 🙂
5. Hotwheels Cars
Boys love cars, girls too to some extent. My niece likes to play with the Hotwheels cars too but it’s more along the line of “this is the Daddy car, this is the Mummy car…”. We have a pattern in our carpet and my boys will happily drive the cars along the pattern as though it’s a road for at least an hour. Which is a long time for young boys! Our youngest is really only getting the hang of it now at the age of 3 but they’re definitely off the menu under 2.
Every child and family is different so I’d love to hear what has worked for you!
Like many boys right now my eldest is crazy about that blocky game Minecraft and anything to do with it. Of course this also means there are many Minecraft related items he wants his mom & I to buy for him, namely Minecraft Lego.
“Perfect” I think to myself – here’s an opportunity to teach him the value of hard work and monetary rewards. So we sit down and I say “ok sonny Jim, you’re old enough to start earning an allowance so you can buy those things you want”. Well, he wasn’t too excited when he realized he’d have to work for it, but thankfully he wants the Lego Minecraft and has connected the dots that work leads to money which leads to buying things.
How much should it be? This is tough as you don’t want to be paying too far above or below the market rate (also known as “what everyone else is getting”) so we followed a formula which seems to be about right. $1 for every year of age, so being 7 he can earn $7/week.
Now, I was feeling quite smug but then I remembered when I was getting an allowance growing up (or pocket money as it’s called in England) I started to expect that I should be paid for any little bit of work I did around the house. As my mother would attest I was a bit of a bugger growing up. After that recollection my wife and I have been discussing whether chores should be rewarded with pocket money.
We broke it down and there are 3 separate lessons here which we want to impart on our son:
1. We all have chores to do and have to help regardless.
2. Money management and saving for bigger things.
3. Earning money and not being given everything.
The tricky part is how to balance 1 & 3 so chores that are expected aren’t being “paid for”. We think we’ve worked out a fair system. The list of chores is split in 2 – the first part of the list are all the expected responsibilities such as tidying up toys, clearing dishes from the table and making the bed. The 2nd part of the list are the jobs he can do to earn his $7. This way he can’t be a lazy sod and do nothing and not earn any allowance as he still has to complete his basic chores like everyone else, but to earn his allowance he needs to take on some extra responsibility.
We’re hoping that he’ll have some understanding of saving for bigger purchases before he’s old enough to wash cars and mow lawns and starts rolling in the big bucks!
So it started with our eldest’s “Bieber hair” (as I call it) getting in his eyes for soccer and an ensuing visit to the barber. I recall when I was at the age of 7 hair wasn’t even on my radar and I had whatever haircut I was given. However, somehow our eldest son has been able to choose his hairstyle for some time and I’m not really sure I agree. My wife found this to back her up where a chap in Australia lets his 3 year old choose his hairstyle (I’ll admit, it’s a good read though).
My argument is that at 7 he should be only be concerned about school, soccer, and cooties. Sure, when he’s older he’s going to be angsty and concerned about his looks. And I get the whole putting up with hair in my eyes things as I had pretty awesome bangs in the mid 80’s which hid half my face.
For me, I think if young kids are just told what to wear & how their hair is going to be then they won’t stress about it as it won’t be a choice. They’ll work out when they’re ready if they want to look differently. That said, our boys have their favorite clothes but I’ve no issue with them wearing Lighting McQueen, but to want to look like Justin Bieber loses some innocence somehow. Is it just me?