Our children are little (or sometimes not so little) enigmatic packages. We are so often perplexed by them, not knowing what to do when they behave the ways they do. And we receive so little information about how they are thinking. So, much of the time we are forced to make assumptions only to later find out how wrong we were in guessing. Parenthood is fraught with dilemmas and most of us put enormous pressure on ourselves to be perfect parents. Well, relax, there is no such thing as perfect parents, so just enjoy the moments, trust your children to be the best they can be, and above all else, try to do as little damage as possible!
Now, that’s the hard part because doing damage innocently comes almost naturally to most of us. Why? Because we are control freaks when it comes to our children, and our control delivers trouble to not just our children, but to ourselves as well. Control works hand in hand with judgment and when children feel judged by us, they begin to believe less in themselves and in their own potential, they lose touch with their inner child, their inner director that is their best guide. They grapple with how to dilute our judgment of them and so they defensively try to be whatever it is they think we want. (Later, they try to be whatever it is their friends want them to be — it’s called “peer pressure”.) Unfortunately sometimes the price the child pays for this is a loss of self, something we never imagined when we thought we were only giving them constructive criticism.
What we need to understand is that children grow and develop best when nurtured. Children respond to words of encouragement even in moments of misbehavior. A quiet adult voice that says to the child, “Looks like you need to take care of yourself,” as the child is guided to a safe haven offers opportunity to correct the current behavior without escalating the situation.
We can’t MAKE our children do what we want, but by using kind words of encouragement we can foster an environment of cooperation, respect, and harmony within our families. Isn’t that what we really want anyhow?
Director/Elementary 1 Teacher