Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two Tidbits

Parenting is exhausting. I mean that in the best sense. I intend to say that raising children demands my full resources. It forces me to give that last reserve of energy, to stretch my capacity for creativity, to cultivate new habits of patience and love, to sacrifice my habitual selfishness for a wonderfully worthy cause.

And then, sometimes, you find something that makes parenting just a little bit easier. That's what this post is about. I'm offering two tidbits, completely stumbled upon for me, that have helped out around the Tapper home.

The first came from observation. We were at another couple's home. The kids far outnumbered the parents. At one point, two of our friends' boys had some altercation which demanded one apologize to the other. After the who-did-what's and the how-it-happened's were all sorted out, it was time for the actual apology. The perpetrator did the usual duty, muttering out the obligatory "sorry," head down and eyes averted. But the parents did not stop there. There was another step. I watched in wonder. Gently, the boy was instructed to communicate one thing further. At this point, the youngster looked his brother in the eye and asked, "Is there anything I can do to make it better?" One high-five later, all was forgiven, and exuberant play resumed.

A two-step apology--how simple is that? We brought it home with us and have been incorporating it into daily life. After just a few days, the kids are already reminding each other to ask the question after an apology (and coming up with all kinds of rectifying activities: copious kisses, high-fives, "Give me 10 push-ups!", etc.). Even better, a lot of the time, the victim simply admits, "I'm okay," relieving us all of continued sulking and whining.

So, here's Tidbit #1 from the Tapper clan: Make your apologies strong and true. Don't forget to add Part Two!

(Couldn't resist adding that super-adorable pic in with this post, although I did have to get kind of cute to make it fit at all, didn't I?)

The second tip I'm offering today is more activity-focused. I am always looking for new ideas for very simple activities--things that could be pulled out and ready for impact within 23 seconds. Well, I found this little idea on It's called "Builder's Paradise Number Line."

Basically, you take one deck of playing cards, shuffle well, and deal out all the cards to your players. When all the cards are dealt, everyone checks to see if they have a seven. All the sevens are put in the middle and lined up neatly. Then players take turns adding cards numerically (one higher or lower than the cards played) and according to suit (keeping hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs each in their own line). So, the first player can only play 6's or 8's, but, as cards are played, the options generally grow. A player with no appropriate card to play must pass. The object is to eventually have all the lines built up, from Ace to King.

This game teaches numbers, sequencing, matching, and taking turns. It held the interest of all four of my kids, ages 3-8. The hardest part was not bumping the cards we had already played, but perhaps that might have been avoidable had we played on a carpet or while sitting at a table.

Remember Tappers' Tidbit #2: Sometimes you don't need to do anything grand; just provide a goal, a strategy, and some numbers in hand!

So, for any exhausted parents out there who need a fresh idea, I hope these provide a bit of fuel for the journey. And, as always, I love to hear about whatever resources you've picked up along the way!!!


the Steiger's said...

Hi Tapper family!!!
How is life up North?
You are SO good in updating your blog. I have to tell you that I am getting swamped with school now that the boys are getting older.
We always done two part apology and in my experience both parties have to do some apologizing. And I cannot stretch enough eye contact not only while apologizing but all the time!!!
Love, Lenka

Andrea said...

What a great idea! I am always looking for something to keep a busy little boy busy.