Is the Art of Parenting Lost?

I have regular conversations with people who are seeking my advice on parenting, something I have grown accustomed to over the last 14 years (hard to believe I was teaching parenting before I had children of my own, but alas, I was…).  That doesn't surprise me anymore, but what does continue to surprise me is that the definition of parenting (not to mention the execution of it) seriously seems to be lost.

The misconception I see the most is that parenting is just a mixture of supervision and discipline – perhaps sprinkled with a healthy dose of ‘eat your vegetables’ and ‘take your medicine’.  But that’s not parenting.

Parenting is not supervision alone.  Parenting is not discipline alone.  Parenting is not simply giving rules and enforcing them.  Parenting is what happens in between rules and discipline.

Let me explain.

Most people parent the way their parents parented them (for better or worse) which is usually a Behavioral based model of parenting.  It works, loosely, like this:

If you like your child’s behavior – reward it.
If you don’t like your child’s behavior – punish it.
Up the ante on both rewards and punishments until you have achieved the behavior you want.

Does this sound familiar?  Here’s an example in case you are unsure if you fit into this group:

Nick isn’t doing his homework after school.  He would rather play with his friends, or be on the computer, or just listen to his iPod.  So, his homework isn’t getting done, and he is behind in school. 

You walk in his room, “Nick, you need to do your homework.  Put your iPod away.”
You leave. 
You return in 30 minutes, “Nick, I said it is time to do your homework.  Put away your iPod and get your books out NOW.”
You leave.
You return in 30 minutes, “NICK!  I told you to do your homework NOW!”

Parents that fit into the Behavioral based parenting model usually start down one of two paths now:

Sensory Diet for School

With school starting back up for many people in the next few weeks, I thought this would be good to re-post!


Many people ask me what a good sensory diet for school is, and unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer. But, in light of how many people are interested, I am going to breakdown what we do/have done for Gabriel in an effort to give you a starting point in determining the best fit for your own child.

PLEASE remember that I am offering mom to mom advice, which is in no way shape or form medical advice, and of course, should not be substituted for your own good judgment. Now that you have my disclaimer, here we go.

Day begins (Gabriel awakes low):

Eat breakfast with input. Offer breakfast items that provide input, like crunchy granola, yogurt through a straw or chewy dried fruit. We focus on high protein and low sugar. Use weighted lap pad or allow standing (or any other at-the-table option) to make sure he finishes his entire breakfast.

Get ready for school. Dressed, teeth brushed, things packed, lunch ready, etc. This is all good linear movement for Gabriel, so I have included him in doing these things since he was very young. The goal here is to get his body moving and his blood pumping.

Heavy work (10-20 minutes before school). To get him the proprioceptive input he needs, I usually have him do chores (I am big on that more since he is older).  Carrying, moving and lifting chores like reshelving books, carrying laundry upstairs, pushing the dining room chairs in, carrying the trash, are all good options. Younger kids might require more 'fun' like a quick game of Simon Say, short obstacle course with pull ups, stretching/yoga/dancing, pulling/pushing with a door frame, carrying a loaded backpack around, or jumping on the trampoline.

NOTE: We do NOT watch TV in the morning before school. Gabriel gets too low, and even with his heavy blanket for proprioception, it is just a bad idea. I highly recommend against TV watching first thing in the morning. Just a personal opinion.

Bus ride to school. This is where individualized seating arrangements are helpful. Gabriel could very well be over-stimulated by the bus ride (too much noise), so we have him sit up front by the bus driver, and allow him a designated seat (eliminating the potential argument over 'his' seat). He is also first off, is always ‘line leader’ when he gets off the bus. Alternatives would be to wear headphones or MP3 player with quiet music to help control noise during the ride.