A guest post

Your child is human, too

by Rebecca Eanes

There’s an excerpt from my book, The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting, that has been around the world. It is my most widely seen quote to date, and also happens to be the most controversial because people misunderstand it without its surrounding context.

“So often, children are punished for being human. They are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes. Yet, we adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.”

Many parents understand the quote’s meaning, which is children aren’t perfect and that we often expect much better behavior and more self-control from our children than what even we, as grown-ups, are able to demonstrate. They have expressed wholehearted agreement and acknowledged that they, too, have been guilty of holding their children to a higher standard than they hold themselves to.

Still, there are many others who have misunderstood it to mean that we shouldn’t hold children accountable for their behavior and that we should disregard all disrespect and bad attitudes, which obviously isn’t what I’m suggesting at all.

Hold them to a high standard! But please, hold yourself to one, too.

Don’t project your bad moods. Learn how to handle your frustration, anger, fear, sadness, or disappointment. Don’t be rude to them. We all need high standards, and do you know what else we all need? A little grace. You know better, but sometimes you have a bad day and say something that isn’t nice, or you slam a door, or you yell at your kids.

We aren’t robots. Sometimes life is just plain hard, and we need a break, not a lecture. We need a hug, not a scornful look. We know we did wrong, but we’re having a hard time. We just need grace. The same goes for our children.”

Here’s a good exercise.

Listen to yourself and the other adults in the home today and notice whether 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 spoken with a tone of disrespect?
  • Has your partner?
  • Did you slam a door, roll your eyes, or huff at another request?

It’s an eye opening exercise because we realize that most of us do at least one thing that we would scold our child for doing.

We have reasons, of course. We are stressed because of work. We’re sleep-deprived because of the baby. We are sick or achy or hormonal. We are good people who are trying hard and who occasionally mess up. We tend to look at the reasons behind our own behavior and give ourselves a little grace for making mistakes.

But when our kids do it, we don’t look at the reasons behind it.

We see them as bratty or naughty, and we skip straight to correction. It’s okay for us to be human, but we expect better of our kids, and that’s not fair.

If I can’t keep my temper in check at all times, I don’t expect my children to have perfect emotional control. If I can’t watch my tone and speak with a kind voice always, how can I expect my little ones to manage this?

We expect these little children with their underdeveloped brains and limited life experiences to behave better than grown men and women. And if you don’t believe me, listen to the next presidential debate or spend some time scrolling your social media newsfeeds.

I’m in full support of high standards.

I think we ought to expect our children to be kind, thoughtful, and well-mannered. I think we ought to live up to our own expectations, too.

It is, of course, extremely important to teach our children that it is never good to be rude or disrespectful. Children, and all humans, should be held accountable for their actions. Failing to correct our kids when they need correction is permissiveness, and that isn't positive parenting. It isn’t parenting at all. They must be taught to do better, and we must do better, collectively, as well. We adults must set the standard high and lead the way. We should also remember, though, that sometimes compassion is the best teacher. Sometimes grace is the solution.

I am a good person, but I also know that I am flawed.

I am an imperfect human that messes up despite my best efforts, and I know that my little imperfect humans are going to mess up, too. That doesn’t make their poor choices “okay,” but it makes them understandable and gives us all a chance to grow and improve. Sometimes correction is absolutely necessary to be sure. And sometimes we just need a little grace.

 

This article was originally published on Creative Child Magazine.

Some common sense advice

I often get posts about early childhood and parenting sent to me and this gem came today. 

Here are the five things author Alicia Bayer thinks 4 year olds should know. It's a very easy list to agree with, and so many of these opportunities are missing from children's lives as adults hurry them through their early years.

As I've always reassured parents, child come to what they know in their own time or as Alicia puts it "every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra."

And now the list:

  1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
  2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always OK to paint the sky orange and give cats six legs.
  4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn’t care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvellous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that — way more worthy."

Visit Alicia's site, linked above, to find out some ways parents can support their children. My favourite, and the research backs this as vitally important, is reading to your child every day. Enjoy this quiet time together at the end of each day and you will make the biggest contribution to your child's education. And you will very much show your child number 1 on the list- every day. 

Welcome!

Welcome to our blog. We've noticed that there are so many places for parents to get information and advice and this can be so overwhelming not to mention time consuming. We don't want to be yet another site selling you something, we want to share information and ideas informed by our years of raising families and working alongside parents as they entrust their precious ones to educators and teachers. 

My name is Julie, I am a mother of three and grandmother to four soon to be five. I am privileged to have three wonderful daughters (in law) raising my grand babies alongside my sons. I watch in wonder as they negotiate this busy world of family life, work and leisure and finding quality care and education for their children. 

This blog is going to be a place of sharing while you negotiate this time in your lives. I want to share ideas about what quality care and education is and places you can explore to read more. This is your space too so please leave comments and ask questions along the way, especially if there is a topic you are wanting to know more about. 

For now, let me leave you with a link to the website of a wonderful advocate for children. Penny Brownlee is a wonderfully knowledgable woman, a wise woman who writes so passionately about children's rights. She has also developed some lovely tiles with quotes to share. Check out her latest articles here

 

One of Penny's wonderful tiles and her thoughts on play, thoughts that reflect Albert Einstein's belief that 'play is the highest form of research'

One of Penny's wonderful tiles and her thoughts on play, thoughts that reflect Albert Einstein's belief that 'play is the highest form of research'