As parents, we’re told that we’re our kids’ first teachers. It’s true, but to me this conjures up the idea that we must stand over their shoulders with a red pen, telling them they exactly what to learn and how. To better support their natural inquisitiveness, it can help to instead think of yourself as a librarian.
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How do you help kids learn social skills, gain persistence, and wow their friends at the school lunch tables? Magic. Specifically, teach them some magic tricks.
But you can’t just hand them a Magic 101 guidebook and expect them to become young Houdinis — how you introduce the art makes a difference. Here are some good ways to do it, according to magicians.
Moving from one activity to another can be difficult, even for adults. It’s especially challenging for kids when the transition is being made from something enjoyable (such as playing or watching TV) to something less desirable (such as leaving a fun place or doing chores).
When my son was a toddler, he had a really hard time being dropped off at and being picked up from preschool. He’d cry or physically resist leaving, refusing to get into his car seat.
When you have a preschooler, you learn that simple tasks can be quite complex. Take putting on a jacket, for example. I always see parents standing in doorways, holding up little coats and windbreakers while instructing: “Right arm! No, the other one! OK, now the other arm! Stretch! You’re almost there! Got it. Now onto the buttons.” It is a process.
Before my daughter learned to speak she learned to sign, and the first sign she mastered was “more”. More meant more — as in, “Give me more milk before I scream-cry in 5-4-3-2-1...” — but for her, it also meant “again”. Sing that song again. Push the toy cash register button again. Make that funny sound with your armpit again, again, again.
On the parenting podcast What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood, co-host Amy Wilson told a childhood story about how she loved to poop in a nappy “until a pretty ripe old age”. She knew she shouldn’t do it, and her mum and dad knew she knew, but their efforts to get her to stop weren’t working. And so they finally took her to see a doctor.
Through the ages, parents have tried various tactics for getting kids to eat more vegetables — baking them into brownies, blending them into smoothies and brainwashing them with songs. But there may be a simpler way to get some green stuff in your child's diet — no trickery required. Simply serve frozen veggies. A few kid-favourites: frozen peas, frozen corn and frozen edamame.
I have a massive stack of parenting books on my desk. Some of them tell me I'm doing an awesome job raising my kid (those books, I dog-ear and pet lovingly). Others tell me I'm screwing everything up, from bed time to screen time. I devour them all, for my job, but also because there's part of me that keeps looking for that thing to cling to.
Is it OK to put a boy and a girl in the bathtub together? What should you do if a classmate from your kid’s preschool comes over for a play date and you find the two of them “playing doctor” from the waist down? And what if your child asks to examine your private parts and that makes you feel weird?