Early Summer 2006

Dear Friends

On a recent trip, I found some time to lounge around my hotel's swimming pool. Within hearing distance were a mother and her young son, who looked to be about 3 years old. They were sitting at the edge of the pool, and the entire time the mother quizzed the little boy about what letters various words began with. When he answered correctly, she'd praise him with a ''Good boy!'' All this, on a sunny, beautiful spring day by a heated pool while other kids played in the water and squealed with joy and wild abandon.

Does anyone else see something, well, sad about this picture? Does it seem strange that this little boy -- barely out of toddlerhood -- was being drilled on phonics at a swimming pool? Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that a 3-year-old at a swimming pool would be better off discovering the magic of water, frolicking, and having silly fun with his mom than being drilled on how the word ''umbrella'' begins with ''U,'' no matter what the latest child development craze may promote. Actually, more and more children's advocates are encouraging us to let our children be children, rather than little robots programmed to do or say something well before it's necessary or even healthy.

Phonics aside, I also think that praising a child with ''Good boy!'' when he gives a correct answer -- or catches a ball, sets the table, eats all of his cereal, whatever -- is not only missing the point, but sending a harmful message. What we intend to do in these cases, I hope, is to praise the behavior. Being specific about what a child has done well is not only satisfying and helpful to the child, it doesn't connect his ability to answer/catch/eat/whatever with his worth as a human being. If he's a ''good boy'' for saying umbrella begins with ''U,'' is he not a good boy if he doesn't? Or if he can't finish his cereal? Or catch the ball? You get my drift. We are all good people. Sometimes our children's behavior leaves something to be desired, sometimes they don't know the answer, sometimes they just aren't hungry and can't clean their plates, and it has nothing to do with ''good'' (or bad). Isn't something like ''Good job!'' (or ''Good thinking!'' or ''Good catch!'') a better way to show our appreciation and praise for, well, a good job than telling a child, ''Good boy!''?

And while we're at it, let's try to play this summer! Along with the signs at pools that say ''No Glass'' and ''No Running,'' it is my humble opinion that there should also be signs that say ''No Phonics Drilling.''

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

Holiday 2008

Fall 2008

Late Summer 2008

Midsummer 2008

Early Summer 2008

Late Spring 2008

Spring 2008

Early Spring 2008

Winter 2007

Holiday 2007

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Late Summer 2007

Midsummer 2007

Early Summer 2007

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Holiday 2006

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