Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Don't Color With Your Kids!"

I don't know if this qualifies as someone giving me parenting advice. It was said to me back when I was not a mom. My "future" husband and I were just engaged, and I was working as a one-on-one aide in a preschool for a little boy with autism. My job was to shadow him through the classroom and step in as needed to help him interact with other children and use the toys appropriately (several of the non-autistic children could have used someone to do this as well, but I digress). My little one-on-one pupil was absent that day which meant that I became a regular classroom aide for the day. I went to sit with the children over at the table and began to chat with them about what they were making. We began discussing animals and fast cars, dinosaurs and castles, and I began to draw with them. The kids were all very interested in what I was doing, they watched my picture progress and all seemed to enjoy the camaraderie of coloring together. That's when the classroom teacher came over to me and pulled me aside. "Don't color with the children!" she said. "I can't color with them?" I asked. "No, we were taught in school to never color with the children, it will make them think their coloring is inferior and damage their psyche." "Okay" I said and walked away. And that conversation has still rattled around in my brain until today, when I decided to evict it out onto my blog.
This is really more a discussion about perspective. Could a child, if you color with him (or play a game with him, or cook dinner with him) feel badly that he can't do it as well as you? Sure, but what is the issue that really needs to be addressed here, is it that he is feeling badly, or is it that he is comparing himself to someone else and feeling like he doesn't measure up?
"Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load." -Galatians 6:4-5
I think the bigger issue is whether we remove obstacles when they are difficult or unpleasant for our children, or whether we teach them how to change their perspective and look at things in a new way.
"A merry heart does good like a medicine" Proverbs 17:22
 Our three year old daughter is working on that verse (we learn a lot of Scripture through song, this CD is one of our favorites!!) She is learning (and we are all getting the refresher course) that your attitude can change not only YOUR experience, but the experience of those around you as well! If you choose to look at the negative, what you can't do, what's been taken away from you, what you wish you could have, then you will be unhappy and make those around you unhappy. But if you choose to be happy, to enjoy what you have, to not compare what you have to others but instead be grateful your merry heart will make you feel better!
I do color with my children, I love coloring with my children and if, as has happened on occasion, one of my children says "Wow Mom, I wish I could color like you!" I tell them that it wasn't the work of a day, that I have practiced coloring for a long time, that perseverance has helped me learn how to be better at it. (and of course I compliment their hard work as well!) So there's my piece of advice for today, color with your children- and remember that EVERY moment is a teaching moment. 

I Can Teach My Child