Friday, October 31, 2008

The End of an Internal Argument

Being prone to romanticizing the inherent (supposed) wisdom in the innocence of children, I often waffle on the notion of children being capable of self-regulation. Mostly, out here in the uber-liberal Pacific Northwest, I sit feeling a little uncomfortable - feeling like a control freak - while parents who seem to know more than I do tell me about how children should be able to use their innate wisdom to govern themselves.

I have felt almost ashamed of the way I've developed rules for my kids. I don't allow them unlimited TV or computer time. I don't allow them to eat whatever they want, whenever they want. They have a bedtime.

But tonight, being Halloween, I decided to try something a friend of mine claims worked with her kids - I let my kids eat as much of their Halloween candy as they cared to eat. With self-regulation and natural consequences, how bad could it be? A tummy ache followed by an understanding of the need to consume less sugar?


Here's a "natural consequence": I'm no longer going to allow myself credulity when parents toss that nonsense at me.

They aren't the ones scrubbing gummy candy puke out of my carpet while my three-year-old alternates crying about her sick tummy and crying because she still wants to eat more candy.


  1. Well that sucks for you. ;P No, really I understand. When WM consumed hoards of halloween candy a couple years ago, we had the vomit fest as well (he was 4 or 5 though can't remember).

    That being said. If a kid has never been allowed to self regulate with sweets and the first time they are able to, of course you're going to have yearning for more. It's a new concept and they will call your bluff persay.

    I know plenty of families where the kids eat whatever they want as long as *drumroll* they have eaten their meal first (mine included). Works well for many folks and not for others for whatever reason/s.

    As far as unlimited media time. Think of it this way...If the all of the child's responsibilities are finished why wouldn't they be able to immerse themselves in what they enjoy? Adults do it all the time and many never figure out what their internal limits are until they feel fed up or something.

    Bedtimes? Majority of the folks I know have bedtimes for their kids. I know I do. In fact the only families I've met so far that don't have bedtimes have older children like 11+ yrs. Even then, there is a quiet rule where media is off and they are hanging out in their rooms.

    Isn't re-evaluating a sign of intelligence? I believe it's called 'thinking flexibly' #4 on the habits of mind paper. I think even #5 'metacognition' has its place.

    Anyway, I do not think you are a control freak. I think you do what works for your family. Isn't that what everyone does?

  2. I enjoyed reading this post....I feel guilty that I am also a control freak. I regulate the snacking, bedtimes, kids are fairly healthy, decently rested, and on track with the schoolwork with an occasional 'bad' grade on an assignment. I have some friends that tell me that I am too strict, make comments that they didn't think it would be okay for my kid to do such and such...are shocked when I give my son a mohawk for no apparent reason...and I am I that terrible of a parent? Whatever. My kids have to ask to play their Nintendo DSs...oh the horror I am inflicting upon them! It was good to read that others also struggle with the idea of setting limits for their kids. Maybe tonight, a Saturday night, I will let mine stay up til 9pm.