KIDS

Bayview Post - - Kids - JOANNE KATES

not ma­ture enough yet to dis­tin­guish be­tween a triv­ial rule that can get bro­ken with­out reper­cus­sions and a big im­por­tant one whose breach could cost them. So they can re­ally mess up.

Sec­ond is the ef­fect on the in­sti­tu­tion. A school can’t run with mov­able bound­aries and rules that aren’t en­forced. We all know camps and schools with per­me­able bound­aries, and we know where that goes: These very quickly be­come in­sti­tu­tions where rules are mean­ing­less and chaos en­sues. It’s not im­por­tant whose “fault” this is, but it is im­por­tant that ev­ery mem­ber of a com­mu­nity take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the well-be­ing of the com­mu­nity; oth­er­wise it fal­ters.

Be­cause schools are big­ger than us, and they don’t tend to ask us par­ents to make their de­ci­sions, we imag­ine our­selves as very sep­a­rate from them. But this is not so. Ev­ery com­mu­nity that we are a part of — schools, neigh­bour­hoods, clubs, camps — both in­flu­ences us and is in­flu­enced by us. A good school teaches our kids not only the three Rs, but also — and per­haps more im­por­tant — to func­tion as a pos­i­tive mem­ber of the com­mu­nity.

That in­cludes re­spect­ing the rules. The dumb ones as much as the smart ones, be­cause that’s where the rub­ber hits the road and you get to prac­tise re­spect. Rather a core life skill.

Bot­tom line: If I got a do-over on par­ent­ing, I’d sit my high­school-age son down and have lots of talks about the rules. In­stead of scoff­ing at the silly ones, I’d en­gage him in in­quiry, a dis­cus­sion of why they have those rules, what ef­fect it would have on the school and the kids if those rules didn’t ex­ist, and what he might do about that stuff if he was in charge of the school. I’d try for him to talk more and me to talk less (al­ways a chal­lenge), and I’d hope for him to come to an un­der­stand­ing of the rules and a new-found re­spect for these rules, in par­tic­u­lar, and rules in gen­eral. Be­cause even the an­noy­ing ones mat­ter. Par­ent­ing colum­nist Joanne Kates is an ex­pert ed­u­ca­tor in the ar­eas of con­flict me­di­a­tion, self-es­teem and anti-bul­ly­ing, and she is the direc­tor of Camp Arowhon in Al­go­nquin Park.

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