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Treating Your Child Like a Person

One of things that I feel strongly about is talking to my son the same that I talk to others -- within reason of course. What I mean is that if I do something wrong, I should tell him that I'm sorry. If he does something for me, I tell him thanks. If I want him to do something for me, I say please. How can I expect him to be polite if I'm not polite with him?

One of my cardinal rules is never talk down to kids. All you have to do is talk, listen, and be interested in them just like you would anyone else. Just about any young child enjoys getting attention and will love to tell you about their lego or their favorite book or video. I remember quite clearly the adults who paid attention to me as a young boy and older. There were the friends of my parents who would come over and immediately say "is your father home" and there were those who would ask me how I was and would listen. You never go into a home and if the wife answers the door say "Is Jim home?" You always say hello and exchange pleasantries and children should be given the same respect.

Because I Said So

One part of treating your child with respect is limiting the use of the old "because I said so" answer. This is a tough one and one that Rosemary and I disagree about. Again, the primary care giver may not be able to do this 100% of the time.

Every time I open up my mouth to say this, I try to think of the real reason why I am telling him to do something. "Because I'm worried that you might hurt yourself when you do that" is a much better answer. That teaches them something as opposed to demonstrating your ultimate authority. Parents always have a reason for telling a child something and if possible this should be verbalized. If there is not a reason why you are doing something then maybe you shouldn't be doing it.

Now what happens is your child gets into one of those "but why" loops. Tim please get down from the couch. But why dad? Because you might fall off there dude. But why dad? Because the cushions aren't very stable. Why dad? Because the foam substrate allows the graviton particles to flow... BECAUSE I SAID SO. After I had given the initial reason why, I use to fire back at him "Why do you think?" That would slow him down a bit. I'd also say that he need to ask another question.

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