Practical Parenting Series: Kathy Koch

Today, Sabrina Marasovich speaks to Kathy Koch about raising children and practical parenting. Kathy Koch is the co-writer of No more perfect kids.

This is a snippet of what she talked about:

Mom’s and dad’s are trying to raise kids they don’t have. We all picture what our children are going to be like before we have them and then reality strikes. It’s important to see what our child is like, what they need and how God created them to be and raise them in THAT way, not the way WE want for them. Parent them for who they are.

We have 1 brain divided into 8 parts.

2 parts are school smart:
Word Smart – talk, read, write and listen.
Logic Smart – ask and answer lots of questions, these kids gravitate towards math.

But there are 6 other parts to the brain:
Picture smart – think with your eyes
Rhythmn smart – think with music and sound
Body smart – move, touch (these kids are usually told all day to sit down or keep still)
Nature smart – likes to get dirty, gravitates towards biology, etc.
People smart – can read body language, know when their mom is upset or needs a hug.
Self smart – quiet, peaceful, like their privacy and space. Deep thinkers, they know what they know.

People tend to only think of “smart” kids as those who can read and write well and do well in math and science. But there are all kinds of smart. It’s important for parents to understand this early on, even before conception. There are multiple ways of being smart.

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There are so many people who didn’t do very well at school but they graduated and now they are so successful. And vice versa, many who did well at school, found school an easy and safe place but floundered when they left because life just wasn’t as easy as school was.

We can study with all 8 parts of the brain and that further empowers kids to do well and please their parents (which is what most kids want to do).

As parents, we keep raising expectations. When our kids do well, parents often say “I knew you could do it, next time you can do even better.” All they hear is “next time you can do even better”. Children slowly begin to believe they can’t satisfy us and it’s so damaging for children to believe that. Often parents don’t even realise they are saying that. Kathy Koch thinks as parents we need to sometimes just say thank you to our children when they do well. And ask them what they did differently and how they worked to improve and how it made them feel.

When your child says “I can’t do this”, you should ask them “What can you do?” That tells the child you believe in them and you’re asking the child to pinpoint what the dilemma is. By helping them break it down, you can encourage them to build up from there.

Kathy gave an example of how when she was a child, she went to her mom really upset and said she didn’t like being so tall, she was very clumsy and awkward. Knowing there was nothing her mom could do about it, except help change her daughters attitude, she enrolled her in tap dancing class. Kathy went on to be the back centre tap dancer, a position only saved for tall girls, a position of high honour. So her height became her advantage and not her issue. So many parents these days are too busy and their answers are “Well there’s nothing I can do about you being tall, it’s in your genes.” As parents, it is our responsibility to problem solve for our children. Perceive what’s going on with them and then have compassion.

We watch our children roll over, then start crawling, then pull themselves up and we have a “come to mama” perspective as they learn how to walk. And when they take their first steps, we jump for joy, we pull out the video camera and say “come to mama”. When they fall, we pick them up and tell them to try again, until they get it. We don’t say they are wrong when they fall or that they made a mistake. So can you imagine what things would be like if we had a “come to mama” perspective all the time? If we encouraged them every time they fell? To get back up and try again, to celebrate every effort.

While technology is important, kids should read more proper books. The kitchen and restaurant table should be digital free zones. We have a generation of children who don’t know what to do when they are bored or what to do with silence. It’s so important to learn how to live and deal with boredom. Whether it’s in the car or in their bedrooms, kids technology should be limited. We should make sure they can hold a conversation, make eye contact and have proper relationships outside of social media.

Have fun with your kids, it’s in the fun times (skipping together, tickling on the sofa, rolling down a hill) that makes the harder times easier to take. And it’s in the fun, spontaneous time that kids talk to us and we can talk to our kids. Although we’re all busy and we adhere to such time management, they are children and there’s supposed to be fun and laughter. It’s all about the heart connection and letting our kids know that we love them and that they can trust us.

To read more about what Kathy spoke about, you can visit http://www.celebratekids.com/

Encouraging Speech and Language

Two weeks ago I went to view some playschools for S to go to while we’re here in Lagos. One of the teachers was asking me about him to assess the class he should be put in. I explained to her how he’s very physical (can do most things a 2 year old can do; he’s only 19 months) but is not very verbal. He can string whole sentences together but only with sounds of words, hums the tunes of his favourite nursery rhymes and understands everything I say to him BUT won’t speak (with the exceptions of “mama” and “ba” (dog)). Her advice to me was to ignore him. If he wants water and points to his bottle and gestures, I should ignore him until he says water or bottle (or words that sound that that). For anyone who knows me or reads my blog, you’d know how shocked I was at this. Ignore my son? That’s not the way I’d teach him.

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For those of you who may have done this, and it worked, no judgement. But this doesn’t sit right with me. I get many people saying “You’re too soft, he’s just lazy because he knows you understand him without words, that’s how he’ll learn” but that’s not the way I’d choose to teach. S has been read to every night  since he was 6 months old, he understands instructions, he’s smart, lively and has a sense of humour. So to the teacher who told me to ignore my son until he speaks, when he is ready, his words will come. And until then I’ll enjoy his humming and his monopolising of the word “mama” 😉

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For more information on how you can gently encourage language in your kids, this website  gave some great advice.