Saturday, May 22, 2004

Learning for children does not only happen at school...

Chocolates as incentive for the kids?
My husband frequently buys me a bar of white chocolate when he goes to buy quickly some items needed like milk and catfood. I don't ask him to buy any for the kids.
What I do is that I share my chocolates with them, often as a small piece of dessert after a meal.
They don't complain about the paucity of what they get; rather, they enjoy the thought (as I analyze it) that we share something.
This morning, I asked them to clear the table after they had rice porridge for Christmas. Ben did most of it, so I gave him 3 squares of the chocolate, then gave 2 to Patrick.
Patrick questioned my distribution. I told him the reason: Ben did what I asked him to do, so I gave him a reward by giving a bonus square of chocolate.
Quite rebelling, Patrick began to scowl. I ignored it. I went on with what I plan to do that morning: weeding and mulching my flower garden.(anecdote about this aspect I posted in my garden blog)
Later I went back in to prepare lunch: carbmeat-veggie frittata. Upon nearing the end of my cooking, I asked the kids to set the table. Patrick was the one who quickly responded. I told him, I would give him his reward (extra chocolate square) after lunch.
So we ate lunch (I did not know what to prepare for Gary; he doesn't really care much for such foods.)
While eating I told the boys that the one who ate more vegetable would get more chocolate. Patrick reminded me that it was him who tend to do that, plus he set the table (but he did not ask for an extra choco to make two bonus squares).
And so after lunch, I gave them my promised treat: 2 squares for Ben, 3 for Patrick.
Ben was not happy; he felt I was being unfair. I reiterated my reasons for Patrick's bonus squares, and I reminded him about his bonus earlier for clearing up the table after breakfast.
The selfish him (as in what about me? Me! Me!) could not accept my reasoning; he started crying, soft at first getting louder. For a second I had the urge to give him an extra piece, but I fought it. I told him I would not give him choco squares so he would stop crying. No, that would defeat my purpose. That would just encourage him to do the same thing over and over to get what he wants. I told him that what I wanted was to give the reward when they have done something good like helping me with household chores, studying, being good with each other. He acted as if he never understood a thing I said. I shrugged it off, and went on with clearing the debris off the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. His audible sobs became louder; I was irritated so I told him to go to their area (they use the living room space at the moment as their sleep/play room), to which he complied.
As I went on with the dishes, Patrick, pleased with himself and with my reaction to Ben's attitude, stayed close to me. I took that opportunity to share with him my experiences as a child. I told him I did that too when I was that age; that I knew Ben would stop soon; if not, he might experience hyperventilation syndrome. I explained to him what that syndrome was: the hyperventilation cause by sobs would drown the blood with oxygen, disturbing the pH, resulting in manifestations as coldness of the extremeties and rigidity of muscles that the person might find it hard to move, making him panic, making him breathe harder, palpitate more because of nervousness, increasing the O2 level in his blood, making it worse.
His face showed concern. I told him not to worry, because I know what to do in that case: to put a plastic or paperbag over Ben's nose and mouth, such that he will breathe back in the carbon dioxide that he exhaled (I asked Patrick if he knew what we inhale in and exhale out; he answered correctly). I went on to explain to him that we need to get to the right pH of Ben's blood, which was neutral. I told him about O2 making the blood more basic or alkaline; CO2 making it more acidic. Inhaling CO2 back from that paperbag into the body would make the blood more acidic, while lessening the O2 level, thus lessening the alkalinity of the blood more. Pretty soon it would bring the blood back to the normal level which was about 7 (then I told him that less pH is more acidic; higher pH is more basic).
Maybe the information was quite overwhelming, but if he encounters that again in the future, he will find it easier to grasp upon recalling this precious lecture moment with me.
Then Ben's cry became a wail that made Gary go down and ask me what caused Ben to do that (because he had been doing it for like half an hour and it was already annoying). I told him to just ignore him. But Gary was really irritated, so I told him to tell Ben about it, which he did (told him to stop crying).
Immediately after that I went to Ben to make peace. I asked him to stop crying and reiterated my reasons for not giving him more chocolates when he tries crying as a strategy.He stopped crying as soon as I touched him. I asked him if he understood my reasons for giving Patrick moroe chocolate. He nodded. I told him I would not want him to do that strategy again to get what he wants from me. He nodded. Then I told him, Sige, bati na tayo. Okay?" (Peace, okay?). He nodded and put his arms around me. I kissed him on the cheek and hugged him. I still did not give him more chocolates. We went on with our businesses. Later on he was giggling with Patrick, and was actually trying to please me.
Who said that we should avoid hurting our children's feelings? I think, if it is necessary to teach them a lesson, we should let them get hurt (with the above incident, I did not intentionally hurt him. I was trying to make my point that I want to be fair to them at all times. He felt hurt, and I could not blame him, but he had to change that attitude.)
I actually felt that they became closer to me, and I felt satisfaction and accomplishment at that.

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