Teaching the Little Things, Like Swallowing Peas?

By: Jenny Baxter

Unsurprisingly, it’s the little things that take you by surprise. Too late you discover the things you didn’t teach your kids.

This is one area where it’s easy to feel like you need parenting help!

Like when you realise in the middle of a wedding ceremony your son doesn’t know how to whisper, and suddenly everyone knows he needs to do a wee.

Or, when you  hear a devastating story of a youngster who died because she didn’t get it when her father yelled, “STOP!” as she approached a pretty fizzing, sparking power cable.

Or perhaps, when you notice that particular rising pitch of fun and laughter in your children and friends – which signals an injury is just around the corner.

It’s hearing, or even experiencing, those unfortunate stories that can inspire you to teach your child something new. Sometimes it’s the little things that can be the difference between life and death. (Did you know that most children don’t have good enough judgement, or sideways eyesight, to cross a road safely until they are about 9-years-old?)

Often, teaching those little things are the difference between “I can,” and “I can’t,” as an adult.

Yup. Those little things can be incredibly big.

Parenting help needed!

Swallow This

Here’s another “little thing” that became big.

Children often dread trips to the hospital. Every person dressed in a white hospital gown wants something: to poke you for blood, or prod you for obs, to sit up, lie still, or poke your tongue out.

My nephew Sam had to endure many hospital trips when he was little. He’s had medical issues most of his life. And during one of those visits, there were many tears and much frustration.

On this day, someone in white approached Sam with a “simple” request.

“I want you to swallow this,” she said brightly.

The tablet in the little cup looked innocent enough. But could he get that thing down his throat?

Little Things make all the Difference

Sam gagged at first.

Then she cut it in half, and it tasted terrible. She added it to jam – still no success. The medication was important, and he couldn’t go home until it was safely inside his stomach.

Time after time, various members of staff tried to help as Sam very bravely attempted to get that medication into his little body.

And time after time it came out again.

Finally, a new nurse came on shift. Summing up the situation in a few minutes, she quietly went over to Sam, held out the tablet to him, and explained what to do in a way he could understand.

To everyone’s relief (especially Sam’s) it went down, first time.

Fast Forward to a New Decade

When my daughter Hilary was 20-years-old, she went to a specialist to talk through some health concerns, and it turned out she had some deficiencies. Suddenly, she was on doctor’s orders to swallow vitamin tablets and capsules with every meal.

“I’m so glad you taught me how to swallow peas when I was little,” she said at breakfast one day, as she gulped down the next lot of tablets.

Her comment took me by surprise. I’d forgotten we’d done that. It was something I taught her because of Sam’s traumatic pill-swallowing episode. That little problem had inspired me into parenting help-mode!

Back then, she was a preschooler, and I suggested she try swallowing a couple of whole peas, or corn kernels, whenever they were on her dinner plate. She got quite good at it, and it became her little party trick for a while.

During our conversation, she was thoughtful. “I can do it. But some of my friends still can’t,” she reflected. “So thanks for teaching me!”

Remember? Often, teaching those little things are the difference between “I can,” and “I can’t,” as an adult.

Yes. It’s the little things sometimes.

Do you find there are little things you wish you’d taught your kids? Or other skills you deliberately taught them, with great success?

Article supplied with thanks to Treasuring Mothers.

About the Author: Jenny Baxter is married with 5 children, and 3 adorable grandkids, Jenny is an accomplished writer, manager and Board Director with a heart for motherhood.