Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Following Your Children’s Lead

Parenting is one of the most informative on the job training experiences that I have ever had in my life. Each day that I parent I learn something new about my children’s personalities, likes and dislikes. I have a tendency to plan parties or activities that I think are fun and sometimes I forget to consider my children’s interest while planning.

Think you know what's fun for your kids? Think again!

In order to reward my son for academic achievement I placed three incentive choices inside of a hat. I told my son that he could pick one item from the hat each time he had a good report card. His choices were going to Dave & Buster’s, shopping at the mall or going to the movies. Once my son picked all of the incentive items from the hat I was pressured to come up with more ideas.

So one day when I picked him up after school I said, “Okay, Joe, you name the place and we will go.” I started rambling off ideas that I thought would be fun, most of them related to my own personal interests and not necessarily his interests. He said, “Mom, can’t we just go to the pet store?” Because animals aren’t exactly my favorite thing I was very hesitant to go along with his choice, but go along with it I did.

And we had an amazing time. My son selected three puppies to play with, held a bird and escorted me up and down each aisle explaining tons of details about each item in store. We spent almost two hours in there! During the time with my son I learned so much from him and gained meaningful insight about the things that make him happy.

After our wonderful trip to the pet store I realized that the choices inside the reward hat were some of my favorite things, not his. I am so glad I decided to follow his lead that day. In the future when I plan activities for my children I will be sure to put their interest firsts. I thought if I did not spend any money we could not have a good time, boy was I wrong. When I followed his lead I learned so much (and saved some money, too).

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