I recently read a quote out of “The Newbies Guide to Positive Parenting” by Rebeca Eanes that got me thinking about how I respond to my kids when they have bad attitudes.
“So often, children are punished for being human. Children are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes, yet we adults have them all the time! We think if we don’t nip it in the bud, it will escalate and we will lose control. Let go of that unfounded fear and give your child permission to be human. We all have days like that. None of us are perfect, and we must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves. All of the punishments you could throw at them will not stamp out their humanity, for to err is human, and we all do it sometimes.”
I’m not typically one to read a book entitled “positive parenting”; not because I don’t believe parenting should be all positive but because I’m skeptical of everything and it sounds too “happy/feely” for my tastes. Hey, I’m being honest. The quote above sums up much of what I’d had to remind myself of lately: Our kids are little, equally flawed people and we can’t expect more of them than we expect of each other.
We use the phrase “set them up to win” a lot around the house. We set up reachable goals for them, simple chores, tasks we know they have the ability to complete so when they do it we can rejoice together. We want to see them succeed but when we expect our kids to act and behave like adults or give them unmanageable tasks we are setting them up to fail. If a child grows up hearing nothing more from you than your “dad voice” they will never learn to hear the encouraging words you have to say. This isn’t to say that we can’t discipline our kids, they definitely need it but it can’t be the only thing they hear from you.
For me frustration and a strong tone is the easy response but that doesn’t make it the right one. It’s my job as a parent to tell the difference between a child (or myself) having a bad day and the start of bad habits. We can only tell the difference between the two when we get our emotions out of the way. No matter how hard we try we can’t expect our children to act like “little adults”, it robs them of their childhood and constantly sets them up to fail. We can, however help shape them in to young men and women who understand the importance of love, respect, encouragement and discipline in their lives and the lives of others.