Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.
I bought my son some beginner crayons for his first birthday. I know he doesn’t understand the concept of coloring yet, and that he will just want to eat the crayons. When do kids grasp the concept of coloring?
There is no set time. At 12 months, you shouldn’t expect him to use color like Picasso. Still, you have little to lose by presenting the boy with the option to color.
Set out a crayon and paper and see what he does. Feel free to do a little coloring yourself to introduce the idea. If he finds the demonstration intriguing, he may try it himself. And he may not. Babies are notoriously unpredictable, a fact that you probably already know, having amassed a full year of parenting experience.
Don’t pressure the boy to color. When the time comes, he’ll do it.
If you draw for him, then give him the crayon, and he doesn’t color, simply move on to something else. Perhaps he lacks the physical coordination to manipulate the crayon. Perhaps he doesn’t connect the act of drawing with the appearance of the picture. And perhaps he just feels like reading a book or chewing on his favorite plastic dinosaur. You’ll never know. Fortunately, you don’t need to know.
Bring out the crayons every week or two to give the boy an opportunity. At some point, he’ll grab the crayon and start scribbling on his own.
I’ll close with one last tip: Start out by giving your son just one or two crayons. Beginners don’t need additional choices. As his interest in coloring grows, you can expand the palette.
Why do parents lie to their kids? For example, a toddler may shine a flashlight at his hand and notice the light shining through the flesh, then ask Mom why his hand glows. Often she will say something ridiculous like, “Oooh, it’s magic.” This infuriates me, because instead of enlightening a child, the parent provides a stupid answer nowhere near as interesting as the truth. Is this laziness? An unwillingness to explain? A lack of scientific knowledge? Why don’t adults just answer kids with the truth?
Not all parents lie to their children. Those who do cite many reasons, including all of the ones you mentioned and a lot more. But regular readers of Ask The Dad may know that I boil just about all of those excuses down into your first suggestion, laziness.
If a child asks a question you can’t answer, look it up. Involve the child in the process if you like, but get the proper answer. Anything less than the truth is a cop-out.
Of course, children often ask questions with answers they lack the wisdom and experience to understand. But nowhere is it written that parents must answer every question. As long as you don’t overuse it, “Ask me again when you’re older” works just fine for certain types of questions. And in most cases, with a little thought, a parent or other adult can come up with a way to deflect an inappropriate question without either blowing off the question or lying.
Yes, lying is easy. That’s why it appeals to lazy people. But when you lie to a child, even about something as benign as the reason why his hand glows red in front of a flashlight, you voluntarily give up some of the moral authority parents naturally possess simply because they are the parents.
As they grow, some children attempt to erode that authority while adults labor to shore it up. And once parents cede any of that authority of their own volition, the children begin to get the upper hand. Parenting is a tough enough job. Don’t give away your best assets simply to avoid the trouble of coming up with a truthful answer.
If you’d like to submit an Ask The Dad question, send it to [email protected] If you’d like to read more questions and answers, visit www.askthedad.com.