Five Reasons That Sippy Cup Color Matters
A friend shared the July 2014 article from Huffington Post called “5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting Is In Crisis” by nanny Emma Jenner, and I immediately disliked everything about it. I skimmed the title so I didn’t realize it was written by a nanny, but I could immediately tell that it must be a non-parent that wrote it.
The idea seems to be clear here that your kid is not an autonomous being with his/her own ideas and needs. They must adhere to your standards and your beliefs and expectations. It also seems to not put any credit to age appropriateness of reactions, especially when children are little and their verbal skills are weak and what goes on in their heads doesn’t always come out the way they want.
Here is my abbreviated response to Jenner's 5 main points.
1. We All Have Sippy Cup Preferences
If your child prefers one sippy cup over another, could there be a reason that they can’t articulate? Maybe the blue one has a squished sipper and the milk doesn’t come out as well. Or maybe they really do hate that particular color. Don’t we all have preferences? We don’t take the red car when we really prefer the black one just because that’s the first one that the salesperson offered us. Control of sippy cup color is all a toddler has in a world full of things that are hard to understand, confusing and frustrating.
Being sensitive to your kids’ own personal preferences lets them know that what they think is important and that what they believe and want matters--even if it’s as simple as a cup color. It’s about respect for each other. They are people, not robots. They were born with ideas and preferences. Honor those.
2. Melt Downs Might Happen for Valid Reasons
She places misbehaving and doing chores in the same category so I immediately have an issue with that. They are two different things. Every non-parent has seen a kid have an epic melt down in a grocery store and shaken their head and wondered how that person could be such a bad parent. And then if you later had a child and that child turned into a toddler and you ever went out in public with them, you experienced an epic melt down at least once. And it was awful.
But again, these meltdowns happen most frequently in the younger years when their brain develops much faster than their verbal skills. They are not melting down for no reason. They may be tired or hungry or angry and these are all reasonable feelings that we’ve all had. The frustration of not being able to express that then tends to manifest itself into a tantrum.
When my kids had a meltdown, I left the place where I was as quickly as possible. No reason to subject others to my child’s loud crying. Sometimes I figured out what had triggered it “You know, I should not have planned to go shopping at nap time” and sometimes I didn’t. But it will pass. You don't have to punish your child or shame them. Talking calmly about it after the fact will eventually teach them calmness without shaming them for what is likely an age-appropriate and normal reaction.
As for chores, that is a different thing. I agree that kids need to learn responsibilities and how to pick up after themselves or help clean the kitchen. But they also need to be allowed to be kids. If play time or doing fun things is dangled as a reward only after a list of boring chores are done then it not only teaches the child to begrudge the chores but also teaches them that their feelings and wants are secondary to the wants of the adults. It’s important to remember, and I paraphrase, the quote by Mr. Rogers that said that play is the work of childhood. Because it really, truly is.
3. In a Village, We All Know Each Other
Again she mixed up issues. It started with parents not wanting others to correct their child and ended back to the “Congrats, you’ve brought your kid to the point of hysterics….way to go.”
I take issue with random strangers correcting my child because it is not their place when I am with them. A parent should be a buffer for the child for as long as possible. They should be an advocate and a protector.
If my kid is doing something that is against the rules and I have not seen it, I would like my attention called to that issue. But unless there is imminent danger to the child or someone else, it is not the place of the random stranger to correct or scold my child.
If I choose to leave my child in the care of a friend, teacher, grandparent or other adult, then I assume the responsibility falls back to them as they are the one in charge at that point. I always alert my kids to who is in charge and whose rules they need to adhere to. Teaching your kids that any random stranger can correct or control them is not only strange, it's not particularly safe either. Blindly obeying someone just because they are adults is a dangerous lesson for any child.
My children are not perfect. Not wanting a stranger’s correction has little to do with whether or not I think they are perfect angels.
4. When Your Child Thinks of Comfort, Their First Thought Should Be Of You
First of all, let’s address the most important issue. It’s spelled Caillou. Anyone who raised a kid in the past 15 years knows all about this miserable, makes-you-want-to-pull-your-hair-out cartoon.(*Note: Jenner seems to have updated this to the correct spelling at some point.)
Somehow, again, this goes from “Hey, don’t use electronics as a babysitter” to “don’t pick your toddler up when he falls and be sure to let your baby self soothe instead of putting them in a vibrating chair.”
Again, this goes back to my first point. What kind of relationship do you want to build with your kid? In those early years it’s all about bonding. About the child knowing that he or she is safe and cared for and that mom and dad will be there. Soon enough they won’t be toddling and falling. Soon enough a warm hug, a vibrating chair or a funny cartoon won’t be enough to make the bad day go away.
She seems to get some kind of satisfaction out of children’s distress and that it’s some kind of milestone if the parent is not there to help them. That’s not the kind of relationship I want with my kids.
5. Respect Is Modeled, Not Taught
I live in Florida and it’s hot. Really hot. And if we go to the zoo it’s also hot and sometimes my kids might need a drink. This is a basic and biological need. I don’t know about you but when I’m really hungry or really thirsty, I feel miserable all over. Now add to that little legs which may be taking steps at a two to one rate or more with the adult and a little person who doesn’t have the ability to cool down as well as an adult and you have a very miserable little person.
If I’m feeling overheated I’m certainly grateful if my husband has me sit in a shady spot while he goes to get me an ice cold drink, and I see no reason that the same courtesy can’t be extended to our kids.
This is all about perspective. It’s not about seeing our children as little annoying things that we must conquer with discipline and inattention. It’s about seeing them as people. People that are different from you and different from anyone else. They are also not perfect. Expecting perfection is unfair to them and stressful for the family.
If you, instead, respect each other then your kids will also learn respect. When they were little, I got them drinks when they were thirsty (in their favorite sippy cup). Now that they are older, they might bring me a drink when I’m out working in the yard and hot and tired and thirsty. I didn’t make them get me a drink or drill the idea of “respect” into their heads. Loving, respecting, cherishing, and soothing created contented children who felt safe and secure about exploring their world. They in turn grow up to be loving and contented adults.
And the world could definitely use a few more people like that.
Original Article in Huffington Post
- 5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting Is in Crisis, According to a British Nanny | Emma Jenner
I've worked with children and their parents across two continents and two decades, and what I've seen in recent years alarms me. Here are the greatest problems, as I see them....