Now don't fuss at me. Don't be in the camp of people who say you have to have 'experience' before you know what's a good idea and what's not. That just simply isn't biblically true.
Now, all other disclaimers aside ;) .......
I have a few philosophies about parenting. And feel free to tell me if you think I'm wrong or right.
I think you should avoid situations where you KNOW your kid will fail to behave. For example, if your three year old can't handle large crowds because of some reason, whether it is something that happened in the past or just his emotional makeup, just don't make your kid hang out in crowds for a long period of time. I do not believe in setting up a child to fail.
'Do you teach them to handle it at the appropriate time?' one may ask. Of course you do. You can't allow your child to go through life handicapped because of an early experience. When is the appropriate time? When the child has been prepped enough and is ready to practice. When you can't avoid the large crowd. Or when you think the child is old enough to give it a go.
Here is a real life example of my philosophy. We planned to have a giant party for the boys' adoption. Since we had experience with Joey misbehaving excessively at even small family gatherings (not to be naughty, but because he couldn't handle it for some reason), we told him about the party WAY in advance of when would be appropriate for a normal child. I believe we told him about it about three months in advance. And we talked about it nearly every day. We printed out a picture of the bounce house we were ordering for the party and put it on the fridge. Joey looked at it regularly and anticipated the party for a long time. And you know what? He excelled at the party. He wasn't worried about all the people, and he loved his bounce house. He didn't even have a pee-pees accident.
We learned something about Christopher though. He was terrified of the bounce house. He'd looked forward to it for three months, and then he was too afraid to get in.
That leads me to my second philosophy.
I think you should make your child do things he is afraid of. Christopher will run to me in angst because Joey is being a puppy and barking at him or because Will is being a lion and chasing him.
At first I made the other child stop because everyone wasn't having fun. But that isn't fair, all the time. Christopher was just being a wimp. I started pushing him off of me when he was clinging to me in 'terror'. I told him, "Go growl at the puppy! Go chase the lion. Don't be a wimp!" And he is getting better about it.
Someone very kind gave the boys a tent at their adoption party, and they were both looking forward to Mommy setting it up and using it. But this morning when I went to set it up, Christopher insisted he was too scared to get in it. At first I told him that I wouldn't make him, because I was deluded regarding what true kindness was. Then as he continued talking about how he was too afraid, it occurred to me that this has to stop. So I told him he was going in. And he told me no. Twice. So after his spanking (I know, this part people don't agree with :)) I made him do it three times. And he loved it. Fear was keeping him from fun! He can't go through life like that.
I'm glad I didn't press the point of the bounce house at the party, but next time he has an opportunity to jump in one, I'm going to make him do it. It is good for his development. I don't want to raise a wimpy child just because I didn't help him face his fears. That would be horrible for him. Imagine a teenager who's afraid of a tent. Imagine the grief he'd get. I don't want that for my son. I'd rather put him through a very mild fearful experience so that he will conquer a silly fear when he's so young that later he doesn't even remember having it.
Those are the two philosophies I have today. I think they're logical and common sense. I want to raise MEN, not wimpy mommy's boys. I'm going to encourage and teach manly qualities, and I'm going to encourage them to follow their daddy around as much as possible. None of this sitting on the couch to watch mommy vacuum. (That's what Christopher wanted to do last night.) So I made him get up and carry recycling out to daddy. That is a much more manly job. Anyone can vacuum (IF they learn how to paint a floor... maybe a post on this soon) and I will teach my kid that at an appropriate time, but now is the perfect time to be a little helper to daddy.