Look out Calvin and Hobbes! Move over Dennis, the Menace! You have a new rival competing for the title of “Mischievous Precocious Imp.”
The NEW Comic Strip is titled: “The World According to Hunter”. . .
As an English teacher, I would best describe my son Hunter as a “present progressive.”
He’s in constant motion, even when planted in front of a Computer screen. And I don’t mean “hyperactive” in a phony, clinical sense.
You see, Hunter is 7 going on 17 and has no plans of slowing down. So naturally he has to keep himself entertained more often to speed up the process. Right?
Thus, the “Mischievous Precocious Imp.”
PARENTING A PRECOCIOUS CHILD
I am going to confess 3 of my most unusual Parenting Techniques for helping the above average child.
I want to confess these to you so that you can seriously think twice before falling into the same parenting traps I’ve found myself attempting to crawl out of when I least expected to fall in.
Due to their seemingly mature nature, there are Things You Will Be Tempted to Do for Your Precocious Child.
TEMPTATION # 1: Teaching your child the art of negotiation by age 3.
Kids do NOT need a Masters level expertise in how to negotiate; they instinctively know a few tried and true negotiation techniques and use these with aplomb.
But if — in your own enthusiasm from having such an eager student at your beck and call — you teach them all the negotiation techniques you know, be prepared to never, EVER get your way again until you learn some new ones.
Most recently, I presented various birthday party venues and options to my son.
He could have:
- An arcade party
- A water park party at the local Evergreen Air & Space Museum
- A Trampoline party at the local Skyhigh Sports buidling.
Or my favorite: A school party with a Mad Science group doing wild chemistry experiments, like making cotton candy and such.
He paused, tilted his head, squinted and proceeded to ask how much I planned to spend on said parties. I told him the basic price range I was planning on spending, after all – you only turn 8 once!
Without missing beat, he replied, “Forget the party this year, just give me the cash and we’ll call it even.”
TRICKS & TIPS:
I need to learn some knew ones.
TEMPTATION # 2: Over enthusiasm to encourage a future trade.
Example: After hearing that your child wants to be either a Chef or a Chemist, you promptly enroll him in “Young Chef’s Academy,” then give him free reign of the kitchen for his creations AND consent to his demand to not have constant adult supervision.
His arguement, he has been taught how to handle himself in the kitchen so he doesn’t need supervision – right? Wrong.
TRICKS & TIPS:
Just stay alert when he prepares to creates his “Texas Hold’em Pancakes” by lining up bottles of 22 different herbs and spices “guaranteed to make you fold.”
And be sure to keep the vinegar on stand-by to wash out the pot after he brews his garlic and onion seasoned coffee.
TEMPTATION # 3: Diet Restrictions vs. Reasoning Power
Thinking that because he has higher than average intelligence and reasoning ability – and you carefully explained the destruction that sugar can wreak on a body with graphics and references – you can expect he will magically reject sugar and make wiser, healthier choices to go along with his high IQ.
My kid has become a sugar addict. The more I talk about it, demonstrate it and discuss the reasoning behind limiting sugar intake, the more he carefully sneaks, hides and snacks on sugar.
If it’s anywhere in the house, he WILL find it.
After declaring he would not be eating sugar until Easter so he could “dry out,” my son promptly combined his negotiation and cooking skills to ever so sweetly bake me the cutest coffee cake, all cut up into petite squares – each with an adorning, baby chocolate chip cookie on top.
He presented this “masterpiece” to me with such pride, all to celebrate my return from running errands.
He then called for a Family Meeting to announce his next worldly quest of building a tree tire swing in the backyard, using the coffee cake as refreshments for this discussion implying rudeness if ALL of us did not partake in offered refreshments.
TIPS: I don’t have any; maybe you do.
WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO
Now I ask you, how much chance do you really think I am going to have at “strict control” over this child as he moves through time, waiting for the magical age of “18” to release him from his parent’s oversight?
In the recently published book Bringing up Bebe, the American author living in Paris tells of the French mother’s steps to teach patience, not negotiation.
They do not withhold culinary pleasures from the child. They simply implement a strict schedule as to when he may have them.
They only snack once a day, and it is only then they may have sweets. Even if the child baked a cake, he or she is not allowed to eat it until the official snack time, whether 5 hours later or the next day.
This teaches them to control their desires by not giving in to immediate gratification.
If I had only known this earlier…
Let’s call a spade a spade – at this point, Hunter is teaching me, by necessity, how to up my game in Negotiation and Goal-Attainment tactics.
My job description has wildly changed to just keep this kid alive without squelching his ambitions and enthusiasms. It’s as simple as that. Most of the time, I’m just along for the ride.
The 3 Things I recommend to ANY parent:
- Instead of teaching your child ALL your known negotiations techniques, just use enough of them to quell any public fits or tantrums. They need to know that they can use communication to change minds for a better outcome, but only for better outcomes.
- Only give them free, unsupervised reign over the kitchen if they are NOT expecting that you will actually be sampling their work.
- Instead of withholding the pleasures of sugar entirely – or allowing a habit of immediate gratification – teach your child the art of patience. Schedule a snack time and stick to it.
Let’s face it people – desserts are a fact of life, and most of the time, a good one at that!