This post was previously published elsewhere, when TJ was in preschool. I think it is still appropriate to share with you now.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but most of us have our own parenting styles that seem to work best with our families. Some of us are strict and rigid with our kids, while others of us are rather laid back and more permissive. Most of us fall somewhere in between the two extremes, though we know which side we lean toward more. But if it works for us at home, it’s all good, right?
As our children begin the process of schooling and socialization with other children, they begin to learn that other kids have different rules. Playdates can be quite educational for both the kids and parents in this respect. But at preschool, miraculously, all of the kids seem to adapt to the structure set forth by the teachers, regardless of how things work at home.
One of the things I had to learn to relax about was preschool snack time. The teachers at TJ’s school provided the snack each day, since there were a number of allergies in his class. I cringed whenever I read that they had Apple Jacks or another sugary cereal we don’t buy in our house. My mom regularly lets him eat things I don’t want him to eat, too, although I should have more say over that than school snacks!
When it comes to birthday parties and other large gatherings of children, I think we parents should all think to ourselves – What would the preschool teacher do?
If your child normally is only allowed water or milk with meals at home, and snacks are usually fruit or something healthy like whole wheat crackers, it’s okay to let go and let your child have a cup of lemonade and a piece of cake with his friends. (Unless there’s a life-threatening food allergy or something, in which case, you’re allowed to be That Mom with the special snack for your child.) If you require your child to pick up all of his toys before playing with something else, but the host mom at the party says she’ll clean up after the kids, don’t make your child stay behind picking up while the other kids are going to play a game in the other room. You’ll spoil the fun for everyone.
On the other hand, if the other children are getting redirected for running on tile floors or jumping on the furniture because their parents don’t want them to get hurt, you should probably tell your kid to cut it out, too, even if you allow the behavior at home. Especially at someone else’s event; you don’t want to ruin things when your child ends up bleeding and needing a trip to Urgent Care even if you think that hurting himself would be the best lesson.
We could all use reminders that other people have different styles of parenting, and sometimes the good of the group as a whole is more important than what we’ve decided to do with our kids at home. Preschool teachers have it down pretty well, providing enough structure and rules to keep things running smoothly while still allowing the kids some freedom to explore their world. Kids need to be handled differently when they’re in a herd!
Tags: behavior, preschoolers