Maren Schmidt: What teachers wish parents knew

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Maren Schmidt, Kids Talk

Maren Schmidt's "Kids Talk" column appears Tuesdays in the Craig Daily Press.

At a teachers conference a couple of years ago, we broke into groups to answer the following question: What are the most important ideas you'd like to communicate to parents of the children you teach?

Here are the thoughts from more than 100 teachers and school administrators.

- Respect the work of your child. Children are involved in a huge task of trying to build an adult to live in a world that we cannot begin to imagine.

- Be a help to life. When we assist children by creating a place where children can grow to be unique individuals, we not only help that particular child, but we help all life on our planet.

- Any unnecessary help is a hindrance. Use it or lose it. When we offer to do for our children anything they can do for themselves, we slow down their progress of building strong independent people.

- You don't have to react to popular culture. Step back and think about what your child really needs.

Does the pop world of toys, movies and teen celebrities support the developmental needs or personality of your child and your family? For example, are cartoons the best way to spend Saturday morning? Is a certain video game important to your family's long-term goals?

- Parents need to be the adult in the relationship. Parenting is not about being your child's best buddy. It's about leadership and guiding your child to adulthood.

- Don't be afraid to set boundaries. Sometimes we have to be the bad guy by calling our children back to a safe path. Setting firm expectations for behavior helps our children learn to be responsible and understand the relationship between freedom and responsibility.

- Have children take responsibility. Our children are much more capable than we give them credit. Give your children responsibility and the freedom to make mistakes within the boundaries that you've set.

- Let kids be kids. On the other hand, children aren't little adults. Their needs are much different. Understand developmentally what your child needs, and let your children be kids, not miniature grown-ups.

- Understand sleep and nutrition for children. Children need more than eight hours of sleep per night, more in the range of 10 to 14 hours. Children's diets require complex carbohydrates versus simple sugars. Invest some time to understand dietary and sleep needs of children and how they differ from adults.

- Kids need quiet and transition times. Modern day children seem to have their days, weeks, months and years programmed from getting up to bedtime.

"Do nothing" time and adequate time to move from one activity to another helps make for a happier, healthier child.

- Give your child your quality time. And lots of it. Children require one-on-one adult time to thrive and survive. Today, our children have to compete with cell phones, computers, jobs, etc. for parent attention. Block off time each day to focus only on your child's and your relationship. Amazingly, 10 minutes of focused time per day can make a huge difference in your lives.

Teachers have an outside window into the parent/child relationship. As parents, we should think about these points and change our thinking and behavior to help our children become the unique human beings they are working hard to build minute by minute, activity by activity, day by day.

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