I have often wondered why it is that kids have a hard time learning to stand in line and walk single file. It doesn't appear that hard....no, I've done it lots of times so I know it isn't. But kids are all over the place, even if they manage to stay in thier spot in the line, you see them off to the left, twirling in circles, walking backwards, or any number of other things. If there is no adult supervision, the line ceases to exist in a mad rush for the little people to get where they are going, pushing and shoving thier way to their destination. Truely, they are a formidable force when unleashed! It reminds me so much of parenting....we often try to raise our children single file....get the oldest one raised first and then move on to the next, so on and so forth. Lets face it, teen kids have teen size problems. Those are often more pressing for us to deal with than if one of our younger kids is having a little trouble here or there. So we deal with the biggest problems first, which usually (not always) come from the biggest kids. Sounds logical but what happens is that if we remain focused on one child for too long, the other kids start "dancing in line", then if things don't change soon.....the line explodes and you have a stampeed! Problems come at you from all directions, every shape and size imaginable....and it usually happens at that exact moment you think you might have everything under control for the time being and are just about to start patting yourself on the back for a job well done.
I think the key factor is balance. (duh!) Balance the time spent helping each child with their individual problems, no matter how big or small. Because left ignored, the small problems will become big and as a parent you will look back and realize you have failed your child. (yes, I am speaking from experience here!!) So I have decided that while I still would like my kids to be able to walk single file in an orderly fashion, (yea, right!) I am not going to try to raise them that way. I will take time for the not so big (to us) problems and sometimes even put the big problems on hold to do so. If they are that big, chances are a few minuets or an hour is not going to change the outcome. But the attention and care that the child gets when you help solve a small problem may be just the thing that prevents it from later becoming a large problem. Raising kids is sort of like playing baseball ...you just have to figure out where the play is!! Keep swinging till you connect and slide if you think you might not get there by running fast enough! Just another thing my kids have taught me by watching them. You doubt me? Grab 10 kids and just try to get them to walk single file in an orderly fashion from here to there. (no bribes!!!) When you can't, remember your child's teacher has over double that amount!!!