Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

July 20, 2010

If I Had A Hammer . . .

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 7:35 pm
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When you think of tools, what is the first one that comes to mind?   A hammer, of course!  How can a hammer serve as a tool for raising and teaching children?  Although many among us have said “If I could just bang some sense into that kid”, I’d like to suggest that hammers actually teach us alot about how to support the healthy growth of children.

Hammers are among the oldest tools around – some dating back to the Paleolithic era.  Okay, the parenting strategy of banging kids over the head mayh be equally ancient.  The claw hammer – the one with a forked claw at the back end – is among the most common.  The claw hammer teaches a great lesson for  anyone working to support children’s growth – it allows do-overs!  You bang the nail in the wrong place, no problem.  Flip your tool around, and you can correct your mistake.  Of course, just as you may have left a mark on the wall, errors made with children can also leave marks.

Talking with my Dad about claw hammers there were some other paradigms for parenting and education:

  • A claw hammer can both bang a nail into and later remove it from a wall.  Helping children grow requires building some behaviors AND removing others.
  • When hitting something with a hammer, the vibrations travel back through the handle and impact the carpenter.   The reverberations from the tools we use to change children often have enormous impact on us!
  • Hammers work well because of the leverage their structure offers.  The length of the handle gives just the needed distance to allow the user to do the most with the least effort.  Working with children, having distance is critical.  When we take things too personally, when our own needs or frustrations take over, we are not effective as parents or teachers.

Enjoy this tool and hammer away . . . remember the endless do-overs and the distance that comes with leverage.   Here’s hoping that  our work with children reverberates and helps us grow, too.


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