Sunday 22 April 2018

Giving children credit where it's due

Anne Marie Scanlon

PARENTING is a bit like being a Catholic. Not only do you have to watch what you say and do, but also what you don't say and don't do.

Like many parents of my generation, I'm fully aware of "learned behaviour", and know that my every thought, deed and action has an effect on my child and how he views himself and the world around him. So I am ridiculously careful about the messages and signals I give him. It's not just a matter of not smoking and swearing in front of him, but trying to keep negativity to a minimum, not going on about my weight or anyone else's, not dissing people while he's in earshot and generally praising him and stressing positive behaviour. (Mind you, having seen The Apprentice and the type of gom produced by constantly telling a child everything it does is brilliant, I also stress the importance of trying harder.)

But then there are signals I don't even know I'm giving, and it always comes as a shock when I'm presented with the results. Last week, my son lost the plot when he found me shredding. "Mummy, stop! That's your credit card," he roared, as I pushed an outdated flexible friend through the blades.

I had no idea my son even knew what a credit card was, let alone how attached he's become. As the plastic disappeared, he collapsed and began sobbing hysterically. "Why mummy?" he asked me with big fat tears rolling down his cheeks. "Why, mummy, why? I loved it so much," he added before once again giving into catastrophic grief. Did I give my small son a lecture on materialism and the true meaning of happiness? Not at all. I showed him the replacement card -- something that made both of us very cheerful indeed.

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