Are we punishing children for being human?
Have you ever heard the saying "Children should be seen and not heard"? Childhood is supposed to be such a perfect, carefree and happy time, so we adults always seem to expect children to be happy and smiley and obedient and quiet as well!
They are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes
Yet we adults have them all the time! So its really strange to expect children to be perfect. To behave better and have more self control than we, as adults, do. This does not mean that we should not hold children accountable for their behaviour. It does not mean that we should laugh off disrespect and bad attitudes. Those things are obviously not cute.
But as the grown ups in the situation, it is our responsibility not just to punish, but to teach and set a good example
What does shouting accomplish? How does it help to cane them or send them to their rooms when they misbehave? As parents, we have the opportunity to teach them to be better. Teach them that it is never acceptable to be rude or disrespectful. Tell them it’s not okay to project a bad mood on those around you. Teach them how to handle frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and disappointment.
And we should set a good example ourselves. How often do we vent our frustration, anger, fear, sadness or disappointment on our children? How often are we rude to them or in a bad mood with them?
Here’s a good exercise.
Pay attention to yourself and the other adults in the home today and see if anything you say or do would land you in trouble if you were the child.
Did you ignore your toddler while he was talking to you?
Did you yell at someone?
Have you or other adults spoken with a tone of disrespect?
Did you slam a door, roll your eyes, or huff at another request?
This is an eye opening exercise because we realise that most of us do at least one thing that we would scold our child for doing.
We are not kind or thoughtful or well-mannered ALL the time
And how often do we excuse bad behaviour in ourselves because we are tired? Overworked. Sleep deprived and stressed out. We are good people trying hard and we mess up sometimes. We know the reasons behind our behaviour so it is easier to excuse ourselves for it.
But when our kids do it, we don’t consider the reasons behind it. We see them as willful, disobedient or naughty, and we opt straight to punishment. When we make mistakes, we're human but we expect our kids, who may not even be old enough to regulate their emotions, to be perfect. And that's not fair.
We are imperfect humans who mess up all the time. So we should make room for our imperfect little humans to mess up too. That does not make good behaviour okay, but it is understandable and we should all take the chance to grow and improve.
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