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Teasing in the Home
Q: I've been home schooling my three children ever since we moved to the hills. What a pleasure to be able to travel across the country when other children are at school. My children are testing above their grade level and are involved in outside school activities. Two of my children are quite gifted piano players. However, my third and youngest child has a "lazy" eye and is often teased by the older children. Can you give me any advice on coping with this situation?
A: I suppose I would ask the older children to put themselves in your little guy's place. Sometimes my daughter makes thoughtless comments to her younger sister, not realizing how painful her words can be. When I say, "Now how do you think you'd feel if I called you so and so, or if I said you were...." I try to talk about these things when we are alone and relaxed, usually just before bed. Unfortunately, as you've probably learned, punishment and scolding often make the situation worse.
We also have certain "rules" in our home -- no name calling and no hitting are two of them. I've never hit my kids, so if their squabbles escalate and get physical, I simply remind them, "The rules are, no hitting allowed in this family." They like the security of knowing they will never be hit and do not want this rule to be changed in any way. The same rule can be instituted for teasing. In this way, when discipline is required, it would be for breaking the rule rather than focusing on the younger boy and making him out to be a victim. Of course, there can be no name calling or teasing at all, and that includes you and your husband as well as the kids. This can be a challenge as children get older and do rather dopey things. However, it does create a certain level of respect that is healthy.
I assume you've had your son's eye problem checked out with a physician. A very good friend whose son had a serious problem with a lazy eye recently took him to a doctor in New York. After a series of visits and intensive, daily eye exercises, he has improved dramatically. In fact, the problem is barely perceptible now. I don't know any of the particulars, but perhaps you can talk to your eye specialist about this exercise option.
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.