Herald Journal Columns
Oct. 4, 2004 Herald Journal

Learn to resolve and forget disputes


As I am writing my first children’s/family column, I am thinking about all the wondrous things children teach us without them even knowing it, as well as all the things we teach them on a daily basis. So, those thoughts are the basis for my first column.

As most parents are, I am hurriedly preparing for the morning rush of getting my three children ready for school, one in second grade, one in preschool, and a six month-old who needs to “tag” along for every adventure.

I take everything in.

My preschooler, while brushing her teeth, excitedly says, “I am so glad that school started.”

What a wonderful way to start the day, loving where you are going!

As there is a chance of rain, my son checks the temperature out and announces that it’s 62 degrees, puts an umbrella and a long-sleeved shirt in his bag (he hangs on to wearing summer apparel as long as he can), and says, “It’s better to be prepared. That’s what you always say, mom.”

I certainly acknowledge that statement. Children do really hear what we say and watch what we do, and we are constant role models for them in our words, and especially, in our actions.

As a teacher, I always conveyed to the parents of my students that they are their children’s most important teachers, and as a parent myself, I realize that truth.

One piece of advice that always sticks with me as my husband and I raise our children is something that Dr. Phil strongly stresses (on his daily talk show): don’t fight in front of your children. It is not fair to them, and we, as parents/guardians, don’t have the right to negatively influence them.

It’s OK to have disagreements and resolve those disagreements, because it teaches children that they won’t always agree with everyone, and that people have differing opinions. There are healthy ways to disagree and healthy ways to resolve issues.

As children learn many things from us, we also learn many things from them, or we should.

There is a saying that we have all heard at one time or another: “Never go to bed mad.”

I believe that children live this without knowing that it is the best thing to do. In my observations with children, they argue and fight with each other, but also know how to “let it go” almost instantly.

In the same breath that a child may be arguing with another child, and as I so often have heard, saying, “I am mad at you; you are not invited to my birthday party,” (that’s a big response that children use for a tool of control in their moment of anger, a moment later, she says, “Do you want to play restaurant?”

May we remember this in our moments of anger and disagreements with spouses or others, to respond with, “I’m mad at you,” but be able to resolve it, forget it, and within a brief time (hopefully before going to bed), be able to say, “Do you want to come to my birthday party?”

So, we learn from children that it is OK to disagree, but not to hold grudges. All is forgotten, and we can all play together once again.

From me to you, always listen to your children, for they always have something to “say.”

If you have a piece of advice or some words of wisdom that a child has taught you that could be shared with fellow readers in this column, please e-mail me at jenni@hjpub.com

The children’s book of the month, which has always been a favorite of mine, is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, who is also one of my favorite children’s authors/illustrators. The book was published by Philomel Books in 1987 (the most recent publishing).

The stages of development from an egg to a butterfly are followed in this wonderfully illustrated book. The story focuses on growth and change during the caterpillar stage. You may have this book or have read it before, but as my children always say with a favorite story, “Let’s read it again, mom.”

As an extension activity of the book, make thumbprint caterpillars by repeatedly pressing a thumb on an ink pad and moving across a page to form a caterpillar; then add a face and some antennas with crayons or markers.

A fun food project would be to make caterpillar sandwiches:

Cut circle shapes with a cookie cutter from bread. Fill with peanut butter and jelly or your child’s favorite fixings and arrange in a long caterpillar shape. You could also decorate with raisins, carrot, and celery sticks. Make a fruit salad with the fruits named in the story, and presto – dinner is served with a little bit of fun!

These follow-up activities are from Creative Teaching, Press Inc. “Enhancing Literature.”

Have a wonderful week, and happy autumn to all of you!