“A person is a person, no matter how small.” — Dr. Seuss
This quote has never meant more to me than it does now.
I’m not a parent– nor have I ever had much interest in becoming one– but there’s one thing I do know, and that’s basic human psychology.
You see, I’ve never been one to really “get along” with kids. Especially kids below the age of 5. When my niece was born, that changed for the better. I get along with her great and have learned a lot in the way of “parenting”. I am perfectly comfortable with disciplining her now. Before she was born I had a hard time just talking to a child. The only thing I’m not that comfortable with right now is changing diapers. Don’t ask me why, it’s just… gross to me. I’ve changed soggy diapers, but poopy diapers just gross me out too much still.
The reason for this article is because of the aforementioned quote. Obviously I know that children are people. It would be illogical and just plain stupid to think that they weren’t.
But what I’m getting at is this:
How often do we discipline a child for silly things like crying or just having an off day?
Why do we act as though children can’t have bad days, but yet we have them all the time?
Think about it.
You wake up in the morning, stub your toe on the foot of your bed, slop toothpaste on your shirt, and get a ticket on the way to work because you were running late. We say we’re “having a bad day”, and we expect people to just deal with the fact that we’re grumpy. We use the excuse of having a bad day to be rude and short with people, which isn’t fair to them, but it is how it is.
Now consider this: A child wakes up, hits their head on something, breaks their favorite toy, and a kid at school says something mean to them at recess. They come home in a bad attitude because they clearly had a bad day, and maybe they act out a little more than usual. But what do we do? We jump down their throats because they’re not behaving properly like little perfect, “well-behaved” adults.
WHY do we do this?
Is it fair to them? Not at all.
Is it okay for us adults to throw our manners to the wind on our bad days, but expect more out of our children or the children around us?
Maybe instead of expecting more out of children, we should begin to see them as children. They have their own sets of challenges they have to face every day. Constantly being nagged or yelled at or criticized or disciplined can really break a child’s learning ability. It can also really skew their views on how a healthy relationship works.
Imagine if you got a new job, and your new boss only ever told you that you did stuff wrong, but they never showed you the proper way to execute the task. It would be pretty confusing and frustrating, wouldn’t it? You’d most likely get angry about not ever being able to satisfy your boss’s requirements, and probably start to give up. You wouldn’t grow or prosper at your job, and your chances of advancement would be pretty limited. If you only ever worked jobs like this, you would probably come to expect every job to be this way and would most-likely end up depressed and unmotivated to even try to succeed in life.
Now put yourself into an environment where you’re taught step-by-step how to properly perform a task to completion. When you start to catch on, you’re entrusted with bigger and more challenging tasks. You earn rewards in the forms of raises and bonuses. You can learn and grow in this environment, and your opportunity for advancing in your field begins to grow as well.
If a child is constantly put down for something they do wrong instead of shown how to do it properly and helped to carry out the task the first few times, all they receive is a negative message. They understand that they did something wrong, but they’re not given any direction on how to change what they did the next time.
Like I said, I don’t have kids. I’ve never wanted kids.
But now that I’ve had more experience with kids, I have to say that they’re not that hard to figure out. Show them how to do things, help them do things, discipline when needed, but keep your messages positive and loving.
Positive reinforcement can make huge strides in a child’s development of a healthy outlook of themselves as well as others.
Ta for now. 🙂