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Heading them off at the pass

Heading them off at the pass


I pulled my middle kid out of school today so that I could take the whole family on a special homeschooling fieldtrip.  The plan was to go and hike at the Rare Eco nature reserve and take some water samples to do some water testing.

Less than five minutes into the walk, however, my youngest two were showing definite signs that they were running out of control.  I gave them both clear instructions that we would need to go back early if they couldn’t get themselves together, but things only escalated, so I took the two of them back to wait with me in the parking lot while my eldest finished the activity.

As we were leaving, one of the other parents assured me that my kids weren’t being as disruptive as I probably felt, and I appreciated her saying so, but the truth is that I know my kids.  They may not have been entirely out of control yet, but I could see the signs, and I knew that they would not have managed  much longer.  It wasn’t that they were doing anything particularly disruptive so far, but I know them well enough to stop things before they get to that point.

Granted, this is not always an easy call to make.  It is possible, after all, that they might have calmed down as the hike progressed, but I think that it’s often better to address issues with children before the point when they have already lost control.  If they have begun crying or screaming or throwing tantrums, the battle is already lost, and there’s little that a parent cam do except damage control until everyone has had a chance to calm down.

But, if you can read your children well enough to intervene before the crying starts, you save everyone involved a whole bunch of emotional angst, and your day is probably that much better.


Luke is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged nine, seven, and three.  He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university.  He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.