I have put much thought into the parent I want to be and on the days I fall so miserably short, I always try to revisit my plans while reflecting on what caused my lapse so I can live up to my expectations. Below is a list of my ideals and the reason I hold them.
First, I believe that there is no such thing as a bad child. Children do not try to maliciously manipulate us. Children do not have the brain capacity to have self control. The frontal lobe is the seat of risk evaluation and judgement. It is not fully developed until mid to late 20s.
Despite this, I still expect my children to behave a certain way when they don’t fulfill my expectations, I do discipline them. Discipline in my home looks vastly different than many other home. For example, if my 3 year old bites, I put him in the play (with toys if that’s why he bit). I explain that I must keep everyone safe, and because biting hurts, I can’t let him out to play.
Keeping the toys, shows him that I don’t want to be miserable, that I want him to feel safe, too. I don’t believe must feel either physical or psychological pain in order to learn. In fact, I believe it is highly detrimental because the children learn a sharp sense of distrust or anxiety. Children are tabula rasa. They are blank slates. They imitate or act on impulse but do not fully understand the implications of their actions which must learned as their brain matures.
Next, parenting is all about connection. It breeds trust. Trust is the foundation of obedience and learning. Spending time focused on their interests or doing chores together shows them that I am interested in them and want to spend time with them while working as a team to have the life we all deserve. If my child keeps trying to touch the stove, I may remove them from the kitchen and explain that the stove is hot, and I must keep them from being burned and keep them safe. So instead of saying, “Do this because I am the adult” with no explanation, I remind my children that I am trying to keep them safe.
Anger and yelling breed fear so when, inevitably, I get mad at my children my goal is to always handle it in a mature and quiet way without letting my anger dictate my actions. I fail much more than I care to admit.
This leads me into my last point. When I do my children wrong, I admit and sincerely apologize because I simply don’t want my children to think I am perfect. I want them to see me as the flawed individual that I am and not mistake me for perfect. Then, when I give them advice as young adults, they will realize my advice comes from sincerity and experience instead of a place of fake omniscience.
Each of these ideals impacts my actions on a daily basis, and I hope will lead to trusting, lifelong connection between my children and myself.
Here are some links to information on children’s brain development and what are realistic expectations of behavior by age:
I would love to hear some of your parenting ideals or practices and how they affect your life.