Some parents give their children designer clothes, foreign trips and a personal TV. Others give them attention and experiences and hold them accountable for their actions. What do your children get? Are you unknowingly depriving your children of important lessons and learnings? Find out here by taking the Deprived Child Test. See how you score.
Which of the following items do you give your children? Rate yourself for each on a scale of 0-3.
2= once in a while
Do you give your children . . .?
- Regular trips to the library. Buying your children 100 books does not count. Do you take your children to the library and allow them to select books of their own interest and let them be responsible for returning them on time? Creating a spot in your home for library books that are to be returned helps young children take some responsibility for their care.
- Instruction about and responsibilities for lawn care. Does your teen know how to run a lawn mower? Does your ten-year-old know how to fill it with gas? Does your eight-year-old know how to clean it off when you are finished using it? If you hire a lawn service, you are depriving your older children of opportunities to participate and your toddlers of seeing you perform the important tasks.
- Responsibilities with laundry. Do the younger children put their dirty clothes in the hamper? Do those who are older help you sort the laundry by colors? Does your preadolescent help you fold it? Does your teen do his or her own laundry? Does everyone take their clean laundry and put it away? If adults take total responsibility for laundry in your home, subtract one point. Your children are deprived.
- Opportunities to see plants grow. Do you have a flower garden? Do you grow corn or carrots? Does your child have a tomato plant that is his to care for and nurture? Has she seen a seed turn into a flowering plant and had an opportunity to discuss the miracle it represents? Bringing home flowers from the florist does not count.
- Respectful disagreement. Have your children seen you and your spouse disagree respectfully? Have you provided them with a model of fair fighting, honoring different perspectives, and listening to the other in the face of disagreement? If you yell or pout you are depriving your children of witnessing incidents of mature disagreement and of living with mature individuals who serve as role models for how to disagree with respect and civility.
- Sex stereotypes. Do you create opportunities for your children to see men and women working as equals? Does your son witness women being as capable as men and is his mental attitude one of equality between the sexes as a result of having witnessed his parents’ role-modeling equality? Do you allow your daughter to participate in lawn care duties or only in chores that concern the inside of the house? Does your son help with cleaning the house and doing dishes? Do your children see both parents share the duties of parenting equally?
- Experiences with nature. Do your children play outside as much as inside? Does your family walk through the woods and take trips to a nature center? Have you been to the beach or fishing in a stream? Can your children identify the names of trees, birds, and other wildlife? If your child spends more than one hour per day watching television or playing computer/video games, subtract one point for each hour over that time limit.
- Accountability. Are your children held accountable for their actions in a way that helps them understand the relationship between cause and effect? Do you establish outcomes for your children’s choices that are reasonable, related and respectful? Do you follow through with consequences or deprive your children of a culture of accountability by caving in and regularly giving them one more last chance?
- Construction. Have you built a snow fort, a sand castle, a tower of blocks, a house of cards, a pillow fort in the living room, a double-decker cake, a model airplane, or a puzzle with your children in the past few weeks? Have you made a piece of clothing or a pizza from scratch? Remember, when you build together you are not only creating the physical structure or object, you are also building a connection and a stronger parent/child relationship.
- Laughter. When was the last time you went rolling down a hill with your children and ended up laughing hysterically? Do you share jokes and funny experiences with them? Do you have a tickle party where you tickle and let yourself be tickled? Do your children know what makes you laugh? Do you laugh together? Subtract two points if family laughter occurs when others make a mistake or appear foolish.
- Mess making. Have you ever put shaving cream on the kitchen table or mixed ripped toilet paper with wet soap shavings to make “clean” mud? Have you tipped over the couch to make a tunnel fort or pitched a tent in the living room for indoor camping? Have you played in spilled milk, splashed in mud puddles or slid in the grass in the rain? Have you participated in a water balloon fight lately or sprayed each other while you washed the car? Do you let happy messes happen or are you keeping a lid on every moment of each experience so that nothing gets dirty or out of place?
- Time. Do you have regular conversations with your children? Do you have scheduled family meals that everyone attends? Do you shoot baskets, play checkers, ride bikes, and build paper airplanes? Do you have a family hobby like baseball card collecting, scouting, putting puzzles together, camping, or horseback riding?
Add up your score and determine where you fit on the scale below. Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to show your results to anyone or get down on yourself if you don’t compile a high score. Treat this as a learning experience that will help you make sure your children are not deprived.
The Deprived Child Test Scoring Scale
36-30—Congratulations. You are regularly providing your children with a healthy variety of opportunities to learn.
29-24—You and your children are missing valuable lessons in a few areas. With a few adjustments you can quickly design new and enriching experiences that will help your children grow and expand in important areas.
23-18—It is clearly time for you to get conscious about your role as a parent and make some major changes. Your children will continue to be deprived unless you purposefully create more learning opportunities for them. The time to begin is now.
17-0—Your children are badly deprived. It is time for you to totally revamp what you do as a parent by making serious changes in your everyday activities. Get moving, doing, being with, and experiencing with your children.
Use the information you glean from taking and scoring this test to strengthen the type of experiences you provide for your children. Congratulate yourself for areas where you scored high. Use your low scores as valuable information to help you and your family move forward toward creating and sharing quality experiences for all.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
CHICK MOORMAN and THOMAS HALLER are the authors of The Abracadabra Effect: The 13 Verbally Transmitted Diseases and How to Cure Them. They are two of the world’s foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish free parent and educator newsletters. To subscribe to the newsletters or obtain information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their websites today: www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com.