Monday, February 15, 2010

How do you teach....

a kid to think about other people?  My parents did it with service projects.  Whether we wanted to or not we learned how to behave politely.  We volunteered at church and at old folk's homes and for our neighbors and friends...  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find anything like that around here that would work for us...

I know she's only seven, but by that age a child should be able to use proper manners - please, thank you, you're welcome and excuse me....not to mention the words I'm sorry.  Instead we get, "I want..."  "You make me..."  "move it..."  "I...I...I...I...I...."

And it seems no matter how hard I try and get her to understand how to be polite I feel like I'm talking to the "nothingness..."

Am I expecting too much from age 7?  I know its a learning process and I have to remember that its even MORE of a learning process for her because the past 8 months are the first time anyone has ever required polite speech and actions...

I'm feeling the like the wicked stepmom with how much she's in trouble these days.  I just wish we didn't always have to hit rock bottom for her to figure it out and move back up toward a peaceful existence...

**sigh**

6 comments:

OrganicSchool said...

I've got a nine year old, eight year-old, and 5 year-old girls and I can tell you, this is NORMAL. All children are born with this natural inclination to think that the world revolves around them--which it does when they're babies and we tend to their every need. But how to help them move on? Ah, good question. Wish I knew the answer!

You're smart to look at what your parents did--and think back to times and events in your own life that made you care more for other people than your own comfort. What prompted that change? For me, it was seeing old people in nursing homes (who were so lonely and sad all the time) because my mom took me to visit them regularly. We also read books as a family that featured sympathetic elderly characters (like Charlie and the Chocolate factory--remember those old grandparents all squished up in bed together?). I now take my children to visit some of the elderly women we've met at church who live alone--the experience has been heartening, because whenever the kids whine and say, "Aw mom--I don't wanna go--there's nothing to do at that lady's house!" I always guilt-trip them by saying how sad and lonely these women are. Makes my selfish kids stop and think--I sure hope it lasts.

Oh yeah--don't forget 4H, Girl Scouts, and Activity Days, all of which have service requirements to earn badges and certificates. Sometimes an award like that is great motivation, too (like in the movie "Up").

Miss Debbie said...

You are trying to undo 7 years of bad manners and bad behaviors in only 8 months. Give it time. Have her listen to you and John over emphasize good manners toward each other, and she will eventually 'get it.' Look how far she has come!!! She is going to understand.... and it will be one more victory to celebrate. You are doing an awesome job!!! Know we all love you and applaude what you are doing!

Miss Debbie said...

PS - as you teach Bella the "please" and "thank you"'s and manners of the world, maybe Maddie will learn right along with her. Tell Maddie with a smile "you need to be a good example for Bella..." and watch what miracles happen. Hugs!

Roxy said...

Not to mention the fact that your mom would have beat your little booties had you been rude or disrespectful!!

Cothran Family said...

I think Roxy's got it right. I learned out of fear. No, I think all the "think of the starving children in Africa" and "What if you were eating with the queen of England" helped me. Alana is the same age and I have to remind her of all the same things all the time. I guess it is because I am the wicked mother.

The Hansen Family said...

You are such a good step ma-ma.
Just threaten to sell her to the gypsies or to us and she'll learn quick. :-)
Out of everything that might be mis-understood, love never is.
You have love spilling out of your ears. No worries sis.