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It's A Gray Area: When it comes to kids, teach and love them

December 18, 2010|By James P. Gray

I never even held an infant until my son Bill was born. It wasn't that I was averse to small children, it's just that I was never really exposed to them, or given any training about how effectively to raise them as they grew up. So with the understanding that there must be many other people out there just like me, my Christmas gift is to pass along to you various tips and suggestions I have learned over the years about raising children. If you find them to be helpful, pass them on, along with your own comments and recommendations, to young parents as they are doing the most difficult but also the most important thing a human being can do, which is to raise children. Everyone deserves a happy childhood to look back upon. That is certainly not completely possible in the real world, but at least we can get closer to that goal.

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To start at the beginning, understand that babies cry. Sometimes, of course, it is for a good reason, and that reason should be addressed. But once they have been fed, burped, changed and put to bed, leave them there. It's almost as if babies are human, because if you reward them by holding and petting them each time they cry, that's what they will learn to do. So let them cry if they must.

Also develop the team approach that if one parent gets too frazzled by the baby's crying, or bad behavior, that is the automatic time for the other parent quickly to take over. Obviously it's hard to raise young children, and sometimes we can lose our tempers when we are stressed or tired. So team parenting is the answer. Actually along these lines, when I was in the Navy, it was well-publicized that if one parent was away and the remaining parent was overwhelmed by their small children, all they had to do was come to the Naval Hospital for a two-day respite. I think this was a sophisticated and healthy approach. Of course grandparents can also fulfill that function, for the benefit of everybody!

After they begin to talk, young children should also be taught to use words instead of whining, even when having a temper tantrum. If they are not able to use words, it means that they are too sleepy to behave, so it is time for bed.

On another matter, never make idle or false promises to your children. So, for example, if you say that your children will be put to bed if they continue to whine, you simply must follow through!

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