“Respect your children.” That’s not something you hear every day! But, it’s something I have been thinking a lot about lately. You know the common saying, “treat others the way you want to be treated”? It applies to more than just our friends, our siblings, our parents, our neighbors, and random strangers…it applies to our children too (and other people’s children)! Parenting posts are always a little tricky to do because there are such a wide array of opinions on the right and wrong ways to do things. Everytime I do one, I feel I’m opening up a can of worms…but, it’s kinda fun. I love to hear how y’all feel about the topic..
Lately, I have been observing ways that adults interact with kids. Overall, it’s totally positive. But, there are a few things that I feel adults do (mostly unknowingly) that are simply disrespectful to children. And, I admit…I’ve been guilty myself!
Think about these things for a minute (or, a lifetime?):
Forcing Children to Hug/Kiss Adults or Other Kids - How would it make YOU feel if someone of authority said that you needed to go be affectionate with someone? It would tick me right off! Touching (to me) is a very intimate thing and something I only do when I am completely comfortable…and when I want to! Some kids are totally affectionate and happily dish out the love left and right. But, what if your child doesn’t have that type of personality? Do they really have to kiss and hug others when they are more comfortable not? I’ve seen lots of adults say things to kids, like “I’m not leaving until you give me a kiss,” “You can have this after I get a hug,” “You need to give everyone a kiss before they leave.” Some kids will happily do whatever, but I’ve seen others resist and usually the adult still persists! Ugh! It makes me cringe inside…cause I know how I would feel. I would feel disrespected.
Scolding a Child in Front of Others – Has someone ever yelled or argued with you in front of other people? How does it make you feel? I know that I feel defensive, embarrassed, and upset. Why would a child feel any different? Obviously, there are times where children need to immediately be told to stop what they are doing…and other people might be around. But, when it goes past that…take the child aside and have a private talk with them. Children have feelings too and they should be respected enough to not be scolded in front of everyone!
Abruptly Ending Activities – This is something I am working on! Lots of times, as a mother, you will be in the middle of something and your kid wants you to help them immediately! What do you say?? Usually, it’s “just a minute.” Right? You are willing to help them but you just need a minute to wrap up what you are doing or come to a point where you can leave. Then if your child gets upset because you are not coming NOW, what happens? Well, I usually snap at them…can you relate?
There are lots of times that kids are also in the middle of something and an adult will walk up and take it away, turn it off, pull them away, or demand that it ends right NOW! What kind of reaction is reasonable to expect from the child? I wouldn’t expect anything less than frustration and anger. That’s usually what happens and then the kid gets in trouble! Is that really fair and respectful? Obviously, there will be times when the kid needs to drop everything and come immediately. But, I try to remember how I would feel and most of the time give them a minute to wrap things up. It’s such an easy way to avoid contention. I think a lot of times its really about the parent wanting to exert their authority rather than an actual need for immediate attention. Of course, it’s a good thing for your child to respect you as their parent and listen to what you say. But, if they are in the middle of something and ask for one more minute to wrap it up, be reasonable. Give them a minute, just like you want them to give YOU a minute to wrap things up. The time to be firm is when they take advantage of “just a minute” or blatantly don’t listen. It’s a good idea to give kids a heads up as to when you will need them…”Buster, you have 5 minutes and then you need to come work on your homework.” It works much better than no notice at all, “Buster, turn it off. I want to see you working on your homework now.”
On this same subject, it also applies when a child is working on something and an adult (wanting to be playful) comes and yanks them away, hangs them upside down, spins them around, etc. The kid sometimes goes for it and has fun. But, lots of times I see irritation…and then the little dude gets accused of being a grouch or mean. Seriously?? If I was in full concentration mode and someone yanked me away, I would be pretty irritated too.
“Discussing” Your Child’s Behavior in Front of Them – This is one of those times where it’s actually better to talk behind someone’s back. As mothers, we need to vent, discuss, and get some feedback from other mothers. It makes us feel better! It might not solve anything but we feel relieved, reassured and might come away with some new ideas of things to help our children. But, don’t discuss your kid troubles in front of your kid (or their siblings). It can’t be good for them at all! They need to hear those things from you, in an appropriate setting and carefully worded. Or, maybe not at all! Maybe you will just incorporate some new tips and tricks that blend into their lives. Or, maybe they will just grow out of their stage and you just need to be patient. I admit, guilt on this one too! Sometimes it’s hard to have a moment when I can talk to a girlfriend or my husband and NOT have any kids around…very rare. But, my kids are important to me and I don’t want them to ever feel like they are frustrating or a burden. When we are venting, WE know that we are madly in love with our kids despite our frustrations…but, they don’t hear that. Sad.
It’s funny how when you put yourself in your children’s shoes…you see things in a whole new light. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I hadn’t thought of some of these things before…or never took the time to think of them. But, it is something that I am aiming to always consider. Children have feelings just the same as adults do and they matter…a lot.