We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tomato Staking

This week my Positive Parenting Rabbit Trail led me to read about 'Tomato Staking':

"Well, your child is similar to a tomato. Without your constant good parenting, he'll grow wild and end up rotten. You need to be his stake. You need to be constantly keeping him with you as he grows, and training him, just as the tomato stake trains the tomato plant, to be as you want him to be - as you know he will need to be later in life." (from Raising Godly Tomatoes)

I started with this discussion on the 4RealLearning forum, which opened with a question about a screaming 18 month old. Wombat doesn't scream (yet) but I was attracted by the 'Child Training' topic, and I usually find the mothers at this forum give good advice.

Then I followed a link here: Unholy Anger: Disciplining Ourselves Before Disciplining Our Children. This article from the Catholic Education Resource Centre discusses St. John Bosco's method of discipline for children. I particularly liked this quote:

"The gentle appeal to the child is full of a mysterious authority and persuasive power, whereas the loud anger just serves to estrange the child from the [parent] and to undermine the [parent]’s authority in [the] child’s eyes."

I also found the name of a book that sounds very interesting. I am adding it to my 'want to read' list: "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber.

Finally, I started working my way through this site: Raising Godly Tomatoes - I will say now that I don't agree with everything said on this site. The basic technique of keeping a child with you and directing their behaviour strikes a chord with me, but some of their methods would not be mine. Having said that, it makes interesting reading and has given me ideas - for both what I do and what I don't want to try with Wombat.

I was interested in the author's rules for starting early in teaching obedience:

You can start by teaching your child "no" and that he must respect that word. Once your child has learned to obey the word "no", you can use it to teach him almost anything. Decide what you would like to see him do or not do and use "no" to teach him.

I actually tried it out for a day, out of curiosity. I found that before long, I was saying "no" more than any other word, and while I was having some success with getting Wombat to listen to me, my own mood was getting sourer and sourer as a result. I did find it helpful to remember the advice to outlast the child, by saying 'no' in a calm, firm, gentle voice, and then repeating the instruction until it was obeyed... but I have decided to save the technique for the few things I really want him to do (or not do), rather than for shaping every element of his character!

I haven't finished reading all the material on this site. I plan to do a little more browsing around, though not necessarily read it all. My personal conclusion from what I have read so far is that it is more important for me to train myself to be a consistent, reliable, strong stake that Wombat can rely on for support - since I don't really want to train him to be a tomato, godly or otherwise! The approach is a bit too authoritarian for me, with not enough emphasis on the dignity of the child.

I will give the final word to Elizabeth of Real Learning:
"What's a tomato farmer's nemesis? The computer. I can't give them full time and attention when my face is turned to the screen."

1 comment: said...

I have the book by Adele Faber. I started reading it when the kids were too young (you know, before they could talk), so I haven't finished it. But I recall liking what I had read.

I agree with you about wanting to be more of a support for my children, rather than an authoritarian dictator. They need to make it through childhood with their dignity in tact and with the decision making skill to survive being an adult.