Never Stop Holding Hands

I remember when my children were newborns, they used to grasp my finger when I laid it in their tiny palms. A tight little grasp that seemed to say, “This is what I need. I want you here with me, and I’m not letting go.” I know it wasn’t cognitive; it was a reflex. A sign of normal brain functioning that slowly disappeared as they matured.

Though the reflex faded, the hand-holding didn’t. I continued to put my hand in theirs every opportunity I could. Maybe I was still checking to see if the reflex was still there. In some way, I think it was. You put your hand into a child’s hand and they can’t seem to help holding it back.

I held my kids’ hands when I bounced them on my lap, when they took their first steps, and when we toddled around the yard. I held their hands during doctor appointments, going to various classes, and meeting new people. I even held their hands when they didn’t need to be held. Like when they’d ride on my back in the soft carrier and I’d criss-cross my arms to grasp their little hands around my sides. Or when we were just sitting next to each other on the couch reading or watching a movie, or sometimes when we’d sit across from each other in a restaurant. There was never a time when I didn’t enjoy having their hands in mine.

Over the years and in a variety of situations, I have held my children’s hands gently, safely, respectfully, kindly, lovingly, firmly, and habitually.

Above all, purposefully. A mother’s touch provides children with an instant sense of belonging. Our embraces say, “You are here with me, and this is exactly where you belong.”

Most recently, I held my kids’ hands as we navigated the parks at Disney World. In these busy parks, I never worried about where they were or that they might run off and disappear into the sea of bodies that filled park walkways. Because my kids never stopped seeking my hands. My hand-hold with each of them was their point of security in an extremely stimulating, constantly noisy, constantly busy environment. My hand, as it always has been, was their connection to safety. It was where they belonged, and it was where they wanted to be. Walking hand in hand.

Connection Before Correction: How Attachment Leads Our Discipline Style

In my parenting, the goal of obedience doesn’t exist. It’s important to emphasize the part about it being a goal. Notice that I didn’t say, “Obedience doesn’t exist in our household.” I mean that our children’s obedience to my husband and me is not something we specifically aim for.

I get its importance, though, and I understand why parents expect it. It’s nice! And sometimes necessary. We tell our kids to do things because we want them to be safe and healthy. Most directions are not urgent: It’s time to get your shoes on. Please clear your plate. Go throw your garbage away. Though some directions are: STOP! (running in the street). Since we give a multitude of necessary directions every day, compliance is certainly a nice perk, not to mention needed.

But it’s also important to keep in mind that kids under age 7 are going through crucial periods of development of their autonomy and will…certainly the toughest years for expecting obedience. This is not to say I don’t have any expectations of my kids. I do.

  • I expect them to have feelings. My wishes may or may not line up with their objectives, and they will have feelings about that.
  • I expect them to express their feelings; to feel free to communicate with me at a level that is appropriate for their development.
  • I expect them to help take care of themselves.
  • I expect them to contribute to the family and household.
  • I expect them to be autonomous; to do things for themselves.
  • I expect them to take initiative; to have their own ideas and want to see them through.
  • I expect them to not like everything that needs to be done. I don’t. No one does.

When I shift my perspective on behavior and aim for an understanding, attached relationship rather than simple obedience, my children are naturally inclined to follow my directions. We have the kind of relationship in which, when I say, “STOP!” or “NO!” in a dangerous situation, they stop immediately. They’re not behaving out of conditioned obedience or because I have actively taught them to obey as one of my goals of raising them. They listen to me because of the status of our relationship. Our connection, combined with the notes of urgency and fear in my voice, creates a crystal clear distinction between this kind of communication and all of our regular daily interactions. There is no need for spankings, isolating time-outs, punishments, or shameful exclamations of “How could you do that?” and, “Just go to your room and stay there!” It’s because of the connected relationship I have with my kids that when I say “No” with authority, I don’t have to say anything else.

So, although my husband and I don’t expect obedience from our kids, we get it. Why? Why does it happen so naturally and willingly?

  • Because we recognize our kids’ objectives. We know that, as kids, they have other ideas and different priorities than we parents do.
  • Because we value their feelings. And we prove it by listening and accepting them on a daily basis.
  • Because we communicate with respect and empathy.
  • Because we aim for understanding…their feelings, their goals, their interests & disinterests. We make it a priority to know what makes our kids tick.
  • Because we value their uniqueness. The way they’re not like any other kids.
  • Because we aim to be aware of their levels of physical, cognitive, and emotional development.

All of this leads to a close, secure, attached relationship. My husband and I replace a goal of obedience with one of connection and trust instead. Because if there is connection and trust in a parent-child relationship, guess what comes naturally? Obedience. Children are drawn to “do right by” those to whom they are emotionally connected.

Do our kids ever “disobey?” Of course. But we don’t see it like that. We see all of these moments in which they’re “not listening” with an understanding of who our children are and what they need. It’s not personal, it’s developmental. I find that if I shift my perspective from You need to do what I say! to one of How can we solve this problem to meet everyone’s needs?, my directions do get carried out. I see ‘not listening’ as…

  • a child having strong, very acceptable, very human feelings. Children need validation and acceptance.
  • immature brain development. Children need time to develop brain connections necessary for self control and self-discipline.
  • an example of a child exerting autonomy and initiative. This is very developmentally appropriate; children need to be autonomous.
  • a show of distance in our relationship. Children need to feel a sense of significance and belonging.

Meet the needs, get the cooperation.

Instead of expecting obedience from my children, I have shifted my thinking to expect developmentally appropriate behavior. I understand my kids’ social, emotional, and cognitive capabilities, and I work on cultivating a relationship based on that understanding. By parenting not strictly for obedience, but for a combination of a connected relationship and authority, kids give their willing cooperation by default.

Why Kids Don’t Need Praise (And What They Need Instead)

Recently, I was chatting with a mom at the playground about kids’ behavior, and she commented to me that kids need praise and approval from their parents, as there are too many dysfunctional adults in the world to indicate otherwise.

To this, my response was, “I think what they need more than praise and approval is encouragement and acceptance.”

“Isn’t that kind of the same thing?”

Not really.

I understand where she’s coming from; she means that many adults have emotional and behavioral problems because growing up, they needed something from their parents that they simply didn’t get (or didn’t get enough of). I agree. And this thinking–that kids need an abdunance of praise from their parents in order to grow up confident and emotionally stable–is not uncommon. The thing is, it’s not actually praise and approval kids need.

You may argue this is just semantics, but it’s really so much more.

When I hear people say that kids need praise, what I think they really mean is encouragement. Praise is superficial and non-descriptive. It’s “Good job,” or, “I like that” or, “That’s a pretty picture,” or, “Excellent work.” It’s generic and leaves a person wanting more, needing more…not feeling quite satisfied. Our self esteem might be high while we’re receiving praise, but if it ever stops, we either seek out more or get discouraged about its absence. Praise is an external motivator and must be constantly applied to remain effective.

Encouragement meets the same purpose as praise and speaks to a more meaningful sense of accomplishment. Encouragement gets to the “why” of praise. It communicates what’s so ‘good’ about something, why we’re proud, what we love about it, or the qualities that make it excellent.  Encouragement takes praise a step further with messages of effort, persistence, thought…the deeper reasons behind why someone should be proud of their accomplishments.

Good job; you worked so hard on that!

That’s a pretty picture; there’s so much detail in there.

I’m proud of you; that took a lot of patience and you never gave up.

And it’s the encouragement that’s important. The praise can stay or go (some would argue that it should go), but the words of encouragement are all a child really needs to hear. If the feedback they hear from you is, “You worked so hard,” or, “Boy, there’s so much detail in your painting,” or, “That sure took a lot of patience,” there’s nothing lost and a lot gained. It’s the same message of enthusiasm that is now focused solely on the child and the things we value: effort, hard work, persistence.

But, you may ask, without the good job we’ve taken out the part about our approval, haven’t we? If we never say “Good job,” or, “I like that,” or, “I’m proud of you,” they’ll think we don’t approve of their work–of them–and have low self esteem, right? Won’t they always be seeking approval?

Not if we’re communicating effectively; deeply. If all we ever offer is the superficial stuff, the blanket praise without any meaning behind it, kids will always seek approval because they’ll never feel satisfied. But if we’re offering meaningful and genuine encouragement for their achievements, they won’t need our approval. They’ll approve of themselves.

So, more accurate than saying kids need a parent’s approval is to say they need our acceptance. Kids don’t need us to approve of everything they do, they need us to accept everything about who they are. Yes, even the mistakes, the misbehaviors, the unpleasant feelings they sometimes often express. We don’t have to approve, but we do need to accept. It’s the acceptance, not the approval, that works miles towards developing long term relationships and teaching discipline, responsibility, confidence, and self-love.

We accept children by hearing their feelings without judging them, by empathizing without evaluating, and comforting without criticizing. We accept that they had a bad day and their behavior is reflecting their feelings. We accept that sometimes they make mistakes, sometimes they need to cry, sometimes they don’t behave perfectly. That doesn’t mean we approve of the harsh language, the harm they inflict on others, or damage they may cause to personal property. But we accept it is a part of being human, growing up, and learning to manage big feelings and fix mistakes. We accept them for who they are today, right now. And we’ll do the same thing again tomorrow. And again every day until they’re all grown up. And even then too.

A parent’s approval will never matter to our children as much as our acceptance will. We don’t have to approve of anything our children do if we can accept everything about who they are.

It’s not semantics, it’s perspective. As soon as we understand there’s a difference between praise and encouragement, approval and acceptance, we begin to interact more authentically with our children. With encouragement and acceptance comes the development of a child’s self confidence and the ability to rest in the security of an unconditional relationship.

A portion of this post has been excerpted from Encouraging Words for Kids, by Kelly Bartlett, an ebook highlighting alternatives to praise.

When ‘No’ Doesn’t Mean ‘No’

The word “No” can make a terrible first impression. Sometimes it just doesn’t convey everything it intends. Especially if it comes from a young child: it’s not quite as literal as it seems. Upon first impression, “No!” sounds like:

  • I refuse.
  • I won’t listen.
  • I’m defying you.
  • I don’t respect you.

Those are usually our first thoughts upon being told No by our children. It’s a feeling, an impression that rubs us the wrong way. We bristle at the blatant defiance.

Except you know how a child’s laughter doesn’t mean a child is laughing at you (unless you’re my goofy and highly entertaining husband), but is more of an expression of immense enjoyment and agreeability? How it is a manifestation of all the happiness they’re feeling in that moment?

A shouted No is like the opposite of that. It’s the unpleasant feelings and unmet needs surfacing verbally in the easiest language available to a young child. No.

If we can take a minute to translate the No into what’s behind it, where it’s coming from, what it really means…

  • I don’t like this.
  • I’m angry.
  • I disagree.
  • I’m sad.
  • I don’t want to.
  • I’m frustrated.
  • I don’t need help.
  • I’m disappointed.
  • I would really rather be doing something else.
  • I’m autonomous and need to make my own choices.

…we get an expression of a valid feeling or a valid need. Yet we often find a reaction of our child’s No unacceptable. Children are quite capable of feeling strong feelings and quite incapable of articulating them. “Using their words” is hard…except for the one that suffices when they don’t know what else to say. No. It’s a simple and powerful way to express complicated feelings.

Keep in mind that No is less about defiance and more of an expression of dislike (especially for the under-7 crowd). And since we want to teach our kids that all of their feelings and needs are always OK, we can start by finding their Nos acceptable. This means searching for that translation behind it; articulating and validating it for them.

  • I know you don’t like this, and it needs to get done anyway.
  • You’d rather not; you’d rather keep playing. I understand.
  • It’s a hard job, and I’m here to help you.
  • You’re angry. It’s OK to be mad.
  • You have your own ideas. What would help you get this done?

When it comes to a child’s No, take a step back to consider what’s behind it. Distance yourself from the defiance. Listen for the translation and give No a second chance.

5 Encouraging Phrases Kids Need to Hear

It’s no secret that kids need encouragement to thrive. But what exactly does encouragement sound like? It’s different than praise or admiration or guidance. It is common to want to give evaluative feedback to kids for their work (“Good coloring!”), or to tell them what we like about their accomplishments (“I like how you set the table.”), or what we expect of their behavior. (“You need to try your best at school today.”) Though these kinds of responses are well meaning, they teach kids to rely on our evaluations rather than to learn to form their own judgments about behavior.

Alfie Kohn, researcher and author of Punished by Rewards, says that kids can come to depend on praise and external validation instead of finding satisfaction in doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do. “Rather than bolstering a child’s self-esteem, praise may increase kids’ dependence on us. It leads them to measure their worth in terms of what will lead us to smile and dole out some more approval,” says Kohn. He recommends that parents focus on supporting and encouraging their child’s efforts, rather than on praising the results.

Encouragement is about teaching kids to see the value of their own accomplishments and to be in charge of their own success. It fosters internal strength and motivation by keeping the focus of children’s behavior on themselves instead of anyone else. As psychologist Rudolf Dreikurs said, “A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water.” Here are five encouraging things to say to your kids on a regular basis:

“Thank you!”

For tasks that a child has completed, let him know his efforts are appreciated. Tell him, “That helped a lot,” and, “I appreciate the time you spent on this.” It lets him know that his work is meaningful and he is an important contributor to the family. Saying ‘thank you’ is no less celebratory than saying ‘good job.’ Expressing gratitude for a job well done still communicates excitement and pride. The difference is you don’t need to tell your child that what he did was good; he will inherently feel it.

“You did it!”

Use this kind of encouragement for when a child has achieved a goal or milestone. Cheer for her by focusing on the effort it took to get there, rather than on the outcome. Instead of saying, “I like how you built that Lego tower,” respond with, “Wow you worked hard on that!”, “Look at what you accomplished!”, or, “You must feel proud.” Responses like these focus the accomplishment on the child’s inner work, rather than on a parent’s external evaluation. It’s much more encouraging to say, “You sure never gave up during your game!” than, “You won your game, good job.”

“It’s OK to cry.”

It’s important for kids to know that their feelings are always OK. Learning how to manage these feelings takes support, acceptance, and lots of practice. Encourage kids by communicating that they are not wrong to experience unpleasant feelings like sadness, anger, or fear. Instead of saying, “You’re OK. Don’t be upset,” let your child know, “You have the right to feel angry. I understand; I would feel mad, too.” Or, “I can see you feel very sad right now, and that’s OK.” Validating your child’s feelings leads to his own acceptance of them, and the realization that he is capable of handling them.

“I’m listening.”

What could be more encouraging than to know someone is receptive to what you have to say? Active listening validates a child’s sense of significance and belonging in the family; they know they’re important and they matter. Let kids know you’re taking their thoughts seriously by echoing their statements back to them. There should be some back-and-forth with open-ended questions (“What would you do about that?”), empathy (“Wow, you must have felt scared.”), and reflections (“Oh, you decided to take a break so you could calm down.”) Good listening sounds more like a conversation than a one-sided monologue. When a child is heard, she feels known.

“I trust you.”

Instead of providing the answers and directing kids toward what to do, encourage them to make decisions and solve problems by letting them know you trust their ability to decide for themselves. Say things like, “I know you can figure this out,” “I have faith in you to find a solution,” “I know you’ll make an appropriate decision,” or “You lead the way on this.” Entrusting kids to make their own decisions is very empowering for young children! It shifts the dynamic from a parent’s control over a child to one of shared control. It encourages kids to think through problems and come up with their own solutions.

Remember that by opting for encouragement over praise, you’re not ignoring your kids’ accomplishments or successes. Encouragement is simply about keeping your response focused on their efforts and feelings as opposed to only the outcomes. Encouraging words not only reassure kids during times of success (“Wow, that took a lot of concentration!”), but also in times of disappointment (“I have faith in you to fix this mistake.”). Instead of looking to a parent for affirmation, kids are able to decide how they feel about themselves. Their failures and successes, as they should be, are about them, not anyone else.

Kelly Bartlett is the author of Encouraging Words For Kids, a new ebook with over 150 examples of things to say to inspire a child’s confidence.

Parenting Beyond the Rule Book

Recently, each of my kids has made a comment about family rules lately that made me realize: we don’t have any. Well, nothing formal anyway.

Not to give you the impression that our home is a chaotic free-for-all, devoid of any kind of morality. I like order and manners and helpful contributions as much as any parent. We just do not have a concrete list of rules that  that govern our family–a list of dos and don’ts–and I have never once spoken the words, “That’s the rule.”

I didn’t even realize this until one day we were playing the game of If and a question read, If you could get rid of one rule in your house, what would it be? For a minute, no one answered. I thought my kids were simply trying to narrow their answers down. But then my 7-year old daughter said, “Ummm…we don’t have any rules.”

We don’t? Do we not get done what needs to get done every day? Do we not aim to treat each other kindly? To respect our ourselves, each other, our friends, elders, teachers, and our personal property? Do we really not articulate that these are important practices by which to live? How is it, then, that we do them anyway, and more importantly that our kids internalize these values–without stated rules?

Maybe our family rules are more like principles that are felt and understood than declared. Maybe we have rules, but they’re not “Rules.” Maybe our rules have never been formalized because they are lived.

Upon returning from a playdate one day, my 6-year-old son, JJ, had this to say:

JJ: I had a good time, but the one thing I don’t like about my friend’s house is that they have rules.

Me: Rules?

JJ: Yeah, they have rules that you can’t do certain stuff or that you have to do other stuff! They always say,  “Well, that’s our rule.”

Me: And we don’t have rules?

JJ: No! We just do what needs to be done. But it’s not a rule. We just know.

And oh, how I love that our kids just know.

To be clear, I get rules. I don’t have anything against them, especially the more people that exist in an environment. Rules keep people safe. They create organization and regulation and ensure fairness. Our kids also understand them. They follow rules where rules exist. They just prefer not to be “ruled.”

Rules provide external guidance and structure, much like a trellis that holds up a viney plant; the trellis directs the plant which way to grow. Without it, the plant falls to the ground; it doesn’t have adequate internal strength to grow taller than the structure provided. On the other hand, there are trees that reach truly exceptional heights because the structure is built from within. (And the roots are deeply secure!) The sturdier the internal structure and the more secure the roots, the greater the capacity for growth.

People also have this capacity for strength and security. And we can begin to develop it in our children’s youth, not by structuring their growth around an externally imposed set of rules, but by fostering their strength from the inside out.

We teach our kids to live the rules, not follow the rules. To just know: Do what needs to be done.

So how does our family set boundaries with no rules? How do we live the rules instead of administer the rules? How do our kids learn about behavior without a set of rules to follow?

We live by example. Instead of having a rule that we don’t hit each other, we don’t hit each other. Instead of having a rule that everyone must share, we are thoughtful and generous with our possessions. Instead of having a rule to say please and thank you, we say please and thank you. Our actions are authentic, not driven by rules.

We connect before we correct. Mostly, I mean an ongoing, long-term connection–we strive for a close, loving, respectful relationship between ourselves and our kids, and this is what guides any behavior corrections. Children are apt to follow the lead of someone to whom they are emotionally connected.

We give directions as we go. If our kids are doing something that needs to stop, we ask them to stop. And they stop.

We are kind and firm. Our kids know that we understand where their behavior is coming from (kindness in empathy), and the answer is no (firmness). “I know you enjoy the fun of jumping on the couch…but please don’t.”

We problem solve. If a behavior happens one time or over and over and over again, we don’t institute a rule and an impending consequence, we get to the root of what is going on and brainstorm ways to solve the problem to change the behavior.

We have family meetings. We regularly discuss behaviors and habits in the house and collaboratively decide what do about them.

We look for the need behind the behavior. “Rule-breaking behavior” is not just behavior that breaks a rule. There’s more to it–a need that a child is trying to meet (though inappropriately). Instead of making a rule to stop the behavior, our approach is to meet the need to stop the behavior

We follow rules where rules exist. Pretty much any type of activity, class, camp, event, or kid-centered business has a concrete set of dos and don’ts for participants. If we want to take part, we do what the organization deems necessary to be safe and respectful. Wait in line? Take off your shoes?  Go one at a time?  Don’t touch the equipment? Clean up your work area? No running? Must be a certain age to ride? We understand why rules exist in the world.

At home, we just live in a way that we don’t let rules get in the way of our relationship.

Goodnight iPad: Cutting Down on Screen Time

I flipped through this book at the counter of our local toy store the other day. It’s a humorous take on the classic “Goodnight Moon,” which my kids and I have read together countless times. And it is funny; an apt exaggeration of how virtuality has replaced so much of what is “real.”

But it makes me a little sad, too. That our world has become so plugged in that there exists a market for this kind of parody. That there exist gadgets for reading and being read to, for listening to music and making music, and for communicating with people without having to see or talk to them.

So many gadgets, so short a childhood.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the convenience of technology as much as anyone. Our family certainly has our share of gadgets. But the idea of “Goodnight iPad” does hit close to home for us.

Me: Goodnight iPad.

My son: Nooooooooooooooooo!

Not quite, but pretty close. The difference is I’m not smiling when I pry the iPad out of my 5-year-old’s hands.

Recently, we’ve been keeping closer tabs on our screen time, both grownups’ and kids’. It has become way too easy to allow some type of screen to keep us entertained on a whim. Between iPhone, iPod, iPad, laptop, and the good-old-fashioned TV, our kids are always only a finger touch away from easy entertainment. When they’re bored, it is only too easy for them to turn on a device instead of playing with toys.

And it’s too easy for me to want to. When days are filled with stress (either theirs or mine) because of school, work, household tasks, or the emotional upheaval of a 5-year-old’s growth spurt, it’s tempting to turn on a device that will allow them to relax, keep them busy, and stop the bickering. Gadgets are always an easy solution to stress.

But when we start to become dependent on them, something needs to change. When I say, “No iPad today,” and they don’t know what else to do with themselves, something needs to change. It means they’ve become to accustomed to a screen as their go-to to-do, and that needs to change.

I used to read the AAP’s recommendations for appropriate amount of screen time for young kids and think, “Oh, thank goodness that isn’t us.” We never used to have issues with keeping screen time to a minimum, but lately the accumulated hours have crept up on us.

So, goodnight iPad. Goodnight TV. Goodnight iPhone-in-restaurants. Goodnight video games of any kind.

Hello conversation. Hello toys and games and books. Hello puzzles and mazes. Hello blocks, Legos. Hello wrestling matches, swords flights, and dress up. Hello sketch books, hello colored pencils. Hello creativity and imagination.

Also hello whining and complaining…at first. In my state of exasperation with our screen situation, I eliminated every trace of them from our day. It may have been a little extreme, but cold turkey seemed necessary. Oh yes, there was withdrawal. The symptoms included angry faces, sad voices, confusion, boredom, chronic whining, and constant shouts from Mom to, “Go do something!”

And then eventually…contentment. Cooperation. Ingenuity.

It’s been a few weeks now, since we said “goodnight” to the screens, and the kids haven’t been asking for them. They get up in the morning and go to the pantry for cereal instead of the iPad for games. When they’re bored, they don’t immediately think of watching a show. They go to the bookshelf or the game cabinet. Our arts and crafts supplies are dwindling, the playroom is a happy mess, and my son always has a toy in his hands.

Will screens eventually creep back into our day? I’m sure. But I’m contented to have come to a point where they don’t seem necessary for engagement. Without the devices, we are engaging more with each other…imagine that! I know that technology affords us the convenience of connecting us to the world, but I see healthier connections made without it. Skip the digital connections please, I’ll take the interpersonal ones any day.

The Man in The Yellow Hat Exemplifies Positive Discipline

A few of my parent friends have pointed out that as much as their kids enjoy watching the PBS show “Curious George”, George always gets into trouble (makes a mess, does something wrong, doesn’t stay where he’s supposed to, etc…) and nothing ever happens to him for it.  He never gets punished or has a privilege taken away or a consequence imposed for his actions. This may bother some parents about “Curious George,” saying that the show is not setting a good example for kids about what what should happen in the face of misbehavior, but I happen to think it’s a great example for parents.

Curious George does exactly what he’s supposed to do for his age and development (and species)!  By nature and by name, he is curious.  He explores his world fully and completely. This is his job as a young, continually developing little person, er, monkey. This is why my kids love the show–they relate so well to George’s genuinely curious nature and all of the honest mistakes that ensue. But, as a parent, what I find most refreshing about “Curious George” is The Man in the Yellow Hat.

The Man in the Yellow Hat never punishes George for his mistakes. He is more concerned with solving the problem. The man helps George put things away, fix things that broke, apologize to people who were involved in any indiscretions, and generally restore order.

The Man in the Yellow Hat doesn’t force George to apologize. Of course, George can’t talk, so maybe that’s why! But George’s body language and expression, along with his cooperation in fixing the problem, is more meaningful than a forced “Sor-ry,” anyway. People can see his remorse and feel his desire to set things right again. George’s inability to speak provides an unwitting platform for making genuine apologies.

The Man in the Yellow Hat will give a heartfelt apology on George’s behalf.  And when he does, the apologizee says it’s not necessary. The mistake has been fixed, and they enjoyed George’s authenticity–his curious nature–and appreciated his spirit. The characters in this show are understanding of George’s developmental capabilities.

The Man in the Yellow Hat doesn’t put fear into George. George is never afraid of what The Man will do or say to him when he finds out  what happened while he was gone. George is able to present his problem to The Man and know that he will get help in return.

Now, if only The Man in the Yellow Hat would learn not to leave George unsupervised as often as he does…

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