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Tuesdays with Jane: What Were You Thinking?

By definition, children aren’t mature. I think we often forget that as parents. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just reach inside their heads and move levers that would get them to do the smart thing? But no, they do incredibly stupid things such as leaving a half–eaten lunch in the bottom of their backpacks for a couple months, even though you’ve asked, “Could something possibly be rotting in your backpack?” And, when you ask, “Why didn’t you take care of that when I first noticed it?” they say, “I dunno…”

They really don’t know. The synapses in the prefrontal cortex part of the brain that control reasoning and planning ahead simply aren’t formed yet. That’s the bad news. But the good news is, every time you ask them to reflect on or correct their mistakes, you’re actually helping them form those synapses. Thus, insisting, “Yes, you will be cleaning up that backpack yourself,” is not cruel and inhuman punishment but a wonderful opportunity for your child to develop more brainpower. You’ll probably need to hand them rubber gloves and a trash bag, since they won’t be able to think ahead and plan that out for themselves, but chances are, they will be thinking, “From now on I’ll at least clean food out of the backpack.”

Me? Know a child that’s done this? Well… At least this was one lesson that only needed to be taught once!

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant
Jane will be writing an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is