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LEARNING ABOUT THINGS AND RELATIONSHIPS:



Your children have to learn a lot about a lot of
things – from needles to calculators, from wedges to measuring cups, from
flashlights to bulldozers. People who know what tools are for and how they are
used have an advantage over people who do not. There is a similar advantage for
people who know about games and toys, objects around the house, works of art,
or almost anything else.



How do you help your child to know as much as
possible about as many things as possible? You try to answer her endless
questions about things, call her attention to things, you encourage her to ask
others questions about things, you take her to museums and art galleries, you
read to her about things and encourage her to read about things. You also take
time to look at something special or interesting, to show your child things you
observe when shopping, you ask questions about things that interest her. In
addition, you point out things, give the names of things, explain what things
are for.



Money is a special thing. Your children need to
have money, learn what can be purchased with their money, be able to tell how
much money they have, and develop appropriate attitudes toward money. Before
your child learns to add and subtract and to tell the different pieces of money
from each other (about six-years-old), she should have some money of her own,
be encouraged to spend it on things she wants, be allowed to listen to adult
discussions about money, and told how much things cost. This can be overdone,
making your child too conscious of cost, or apprehensive about whether or not
there will be enough money.



A few examples: Your seven-year-old picks out a
toy car costing $1.81, but has only $1.70 to spend. Should you simply pay the
other $0.11? Generally not. Simply tell her if she wants the toy car, she will
have to save more money or suggest she pick out a toy not costing so much. Another
possibility is to tell your seven-year-old, “I will loan you the $0.11 and
you can pay me back as soon as you get more money.” If your child agrees,
remember to ask her for it the next time she gets some money.



Your twelve-year-old tells you he should get
paid for doing things around the house. Do you agree to pay him? Probably not.
Being a member of the family and living in the house involves sharing
responsibilities. Household jobs are not something for which anyone gets paid;
everyone is expected to help. You may decide he has a right to some spending
money which he can count on having. This allowance is one of the rights shared
by responsible members of your household. If some week you do not have money to
give to him, he will have to do without but still do the work assigned him.
Your children should be expected to share in the responsibilities of the household
and also have a right to share in the resources available to the family.



Should your children be forced to save part of
their money? Probably not. Most children need to learn to handle their small
amounts of money responsibly. If your child has, say $50, you might insist he
save part of it. Even in this situation, though, he should have the right to
spend it on something special. An exception to this might be a percent of all
money received, if you believe your children should regularly contribute to church
or to an investment or college fund.



Should your children have pets? Yes, if at all
possible, because they learn a lot about relationships with people through
their relationships with pets. In addition, they learn how to take care of
animals and to develop good feelings toward animals. Through a relationship
with a kitten, for example, your child learns the importance of playfulness
combined with gentleness, respect for the kitten’s autonomy, the responsibility
that goes with love, and seeing the kitten has food and water. The same is true
with other pets. Your children also learn from their pets about death, illness,
and injury. Pets offer your children one of the best ways to learn about
relationships.



Very young children cannot accept full responsibility
for pets. You help your small children, but should not accept responsibility
for it yourself. In addition, your children should be shown how to hold pets,
play with them, not abuse them, see they do not get lost or injured. Insist
your children accept these responsibilities, consistent with their ages, and
actively show them how to deal with the pet.



Relationships are not specifically taught in
school, so you must take the responsibility for teaching your children about
relationships. You might be talking about friends and say, “There are a
lot of different kinds of relationships.” You could then go on to talk
about what is different about the relationships.



Consider your child who is about to deal with a
new type of relationship. If he has thought about relationships in conscious
terms, he can think, “Visiting Grandma in the hospital will probably be a
little like visiting her at home, plus a little bit like visiting Aunt Jenny at
the nursing home.” On the other hand, your child who does not make the
comparison automatically, will have to have it explained to him in his own terms.





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