Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Walkin' the walk...

I've mentioned in passing previously that I follow and read Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids blog. It's a philosophy that I've grown to fully embrace, and I truly love reading the posts and comments from people who aren't paranoid about our world, and I have come to view the world as much less scary and dangerous than I was raised to believe it was. I want to share a wonderful teaching opportunity I had with M and J to promote their independence and self-reliance.

A few nights ago, M randomly began talking about how IFKAMH sometimes walks away from them and they don't know where he goes. Yes, that is as vague as his initial description was, and my prodding didn't really get much more details of what he was actually talking about. It seems that some time in the past IFKMAH has told them to stay in one place at a store and then gone to another part of the store away from their view. I couldn't figure out if this was from their most recent visit or if it was even an isolated incident. All they could clearly convey to me was that they didn't know where he'd gone or when he'd be back and they went looking for him to find him.

I was upset by this. I was upset that he had once again done something to make the boys uncomfortable. It would seem they still have issues trusting him since they chose to go find him rather than wait for him to return as he'd said he would. The boys also have separation anxiety issues. They do tend to freak out when they don't know where their adults are, especially in stores. But, I chose not to handle this situation that way with the boys, playing into their fears. Instead, I wanted them to understand what they can do so they won't have to be so afraid.

I asked them if they knew what to do if they couldn't find their grown-up when they were at the store. They didn't have an answer, so I told them they should walk to the front of the store and find an employee and tell the employee that they couldn't find their grown-up. I explained that the employee would probably ask for the grown-up's name and maybe their name and would then use an announcement system to call the grown-up to come to the front of the store to find them.

As much as it infuriates me that IFKAMH may have walked away from them in a store without setting their expectations as to where he'd be and how long it would take for him to return, I don't want my boys to feel scared in this situation or in a situation where they are actually lost in a store. I want them to know the best course of action, so rather than commiserate with their acknowledgment of his parenting mistake, I decided to let that slide and seized the opportunity to teach them something they need to know.

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