Sunday, 8 January 2012


So the Princes Trust is blaming a lack of routine and structure in the lives of children for poor academic performance and poorer prospects as adults.
I have to admit I want to suppress a large "Well Duh" here. Kids need structure in their lives, the world is a confusing place for little ones and I am doing my best to make Josephs life as simple for him as possible at the moment. I decide when he has his naps and when he goes to bed. I decide when he eats and what he eats. I decide when it's play time, but he has some choice on the toys. I decide when we go out and the only thing he has any real authority on is when he fills his nappy.
Instead of him feeling tired and struggling to express to me what he wants his routine provides for all his physical needs and the pair of us are less stressed. This means he can spend all his spare mental energy on working out that the square block wont go through the round hole in the new shape sorter toy. As he gets older I will let him have more choice in certain areas, but the routine will be a set one and he will always know where he should be and, within reason, what he should be doing. If the rules are simple then they are easy to follow.
They've missed something though, in this report. It doesn't seem to occur to them that children with stabler family lives - set bedtimes, family mealtimes and such are much more likely to have parents who take an active interest and role in their children's academic life. They'll help with homework more and provide more encouragement.
Of course, being a disorganised parent doesn't mean that you're condemning your children to a life of F grades and failure as an adult, but it does make it harder to get on in a very structured world if you're not used to it. After all, the vast majority of us will end up with jobs that have set hours, set break times and set work. A few might be fortunate enough to break free in a spirit of entrepreneur-ship, but you still have to work hard for it.
My point? Well, it does seem to show a correlation between putting effort in and getting results out. There are no guarantees, there never are in life. Joseph will, no doubt, have days where he fights against the structures I make him live by, in fact he already has done so. Yesterday he decided that he wouldn't have is 9am nap, no way no how. At 12pm he slept for 1 hour and refused to go back. As he's over a year old now I'm more inclined to leave him a little longer now, so often he has a whinge for a bit and then gives up and goes to sleep.
Andy didn't like this and let him get up. The net result was a child who was screaming tired before 6pm and it was hard getting any dinner into him. He was frustrated and cross and generally unpleasant. Let that be a lesson, Joseph. Take your naps!
I think that's all I can cope with on this subject. It frustrates me no end when people claim that discipline is against the human rights of a child. For goodness sake people, it's not like back in the bad old days when kids were locked in coal cellars and hit with canes. Kids need structure and they need showing when they've broken the rules or they'll never grasp right from wrong and we've all seen what happens with people like that.
Parenting is hard.

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