Working toward a balance of needs

  • Take a penny walk. One mother decided she wanted more down-time with her children. So she started taking them on penny walks. She and her kids would go outside with a penny. When they reached the end of their driveway, they flipped it. If it landed heads, they went to the right. If it was tails, they turned left. When they reached the corner, they flipped it again. They kept flipping that penny at every intersection until they got tired and decided to go home. Whatever happened spontaneously on penny walks was okay, but no errands were allowed.
  • Be a role model. Karyn, who was a single parent when Bryan was three, tells the following story: "One day I was working in the garden and Bryan was hanging on my legs, wanting me to play with him. Exhausted by his constant interruptions, I wanted to pull weeds, to think, to have a few moments alone. I told him, 'I want to be by myself for fifteen minutes. You can still be out here, but I don't want to talk to you or play with you. I need some time for myself. And when the fifteen minutes is up, I'll tell you. Then you can talk to me.' Bryan cried a little. Then he played with his trucks in the mud. I pulled a patch of weeds and went inside. When I came out to find him, he was sitting on a little block of wood at the edge of the patio, looking out at the garden. I said, 'Honey, I'm here now.' And he said, 'Look, I just want five or ten minutes by myself." 'Okay," I told him, "Come to me when you're done.'" By modeling her need for time alone and by respecting her son's request, Karyn taught him to value something that was important to her -- the gift of solitude.

Excerpted from "Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years" by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser (Publisher: Broadway Books; $20.00; Paperback; ISBN: 0553067508).

Copyright © 1997 by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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