These days, with all of the modern touchy-feely parenting techniques that focus on "feelings" and "self-esteem" and "proper dental hygiene," one very effective motivational device gets woefully overlooked.
Of course I'm talking about fear.
Fear is a great motivator when used sparingly (if you over use it, your kid gets desensitized and then it stops working). Anyway, it occurred to me that this recent swine flu mania was a good opportunity to get in some good parenting moments.
So when I brought The Kid home from kindergarten the other day, I took her immediately to the kitchen sink.
"Okay, the first thing we need to do is wash our hands. It's more important than ever to wash our hands a lot these days," I said.
Of course I received the expected and inevitable answer in the form of a question.
"Why," The Kid asked.
"Well, there's a really bad flu going around," I explained. "It's so serious that people have died."
Ah yes. The fear of death. That should get her attention. But first things first.
"A 'foo'? What's a 'foo'?"
"Not a foo," I explained. "A flu. It's a virus that can get into your body and make you sick. It's kind of like a germ."
"Oh. And people die from it?"
"Yes. They have had people die from it. But as long as you was your hands a lot and make lots of suds, you should be okay."
For the next few minutes we washed out hands together. I told her how important it is to use warm water, make lots of suds with the soap and wash the front and back of you hands, between your fingers and even up around your wrist.
The next day on the way to school, NPR conveniently played the latest tragic news about the flu, and I conveniently turned up the volume for The Kid to conveniently hear. When I picked her up from school that afternoon, I asked if she washed her hands a lot during the day.
"I tried, but the soap here doesn't make suds very well," she said. "Also, my friend Carly doesn't care if she dies."
"She didn't believe me when I told her she had to wash her hands so she doesn't die from the flu."
tagged: family, parenting, swine flu, health