We spent the day at the Dutchess County Fair yesterday. It was a wonderful day full of interacting with animals, eating bad fair food and riding on questionable fair rides. We returned home, full of experiences, excited about our plans to get chickens in the spring and exhausted. I also came home with a bit of frustration and disappointment at the way some parents interact with their children. I’m not one to cast stones; parenting is hard and we can oftentimes do things that harken back to our own upbringing, only to reflect on it after the fact and realize we want to do things differently. At the same time, I think we can often overlook the fact that our kids are people too. They have feelings, they want their privacy and they know what they want and don’t want. I’m not just talking about older kids, I’m talking about all kids. Even toddlers have a level of awareness that parents overlook.
I decided to write today’s post in honor of all those kids that I’ve seen squirm, shrink, blush or otherwise tune out because their parents weren’t aware of how uncomfortable certain things were making them.
Here are five things I see parents do that I just wish they wouldn’t:
1) Washing your child’s face or smoothing their hair down with spit. If that toothpaste smudge or stray hair is bothering you that much, take the extra step to get a wet cloth and take care of it, but don’t use your own spit to clean up his appearance. We tell children not to spit, that spitting is bad or dirty, and then we turn around and use ours as a way to clean them up. Most kids find this disgusting, but since we’re the adults, all they can do is squirm and protest.
2) Telling others a personal story about your child, in front of your child. You may find certain stories cute or endearing, but often what we find as cute is just plain embarrassing to our children. If you want to share a story that involves your child, ask her if it’s ok if you share it. By doing this, you not only respect her privacy but you also lay the groundwork for her returning the favor and asking before she shares something personal about you that you’d rather she didn’t.
3) Talking about your child in front of them, as if they aren’t there. I’m sure you know how weird it feels to have someone talk about you as if you don’t exist. Well, it’s no different for kids. If you need to discuss things about them, include them in the conversation.
4) Putting your child in an uncomfortable position. As our children grow-up some things are just uncomfortable like insisting you go in the changing room with them when they ask you not to; or making them hold your hand in front of friends. Respect that they are growing up and that they are developing a need for personal space.
5) Making your child kiss or hug someone they don’t want to kiss. We want our kids to respect their own sense of comfort, right? We don’t want them overriding that out of propriety or expectation. So why would we make them kiss someone they aren’t comfortable kissing? Just because someone is a relative or a close friend of the family, doesn’t automatically give them credibility with your child. If your child doesn’t want to kiss or hug someone, respect that. You can talk about it later, but don’t force them to do it in the moment.
Basically these five things come down to four golden rules:
- Respect your child’s personal space.
- Respect your child’s privacy.
- Honor your child’s comfort levels.
- Acknowledge your child’s presence and awareness.
Kids are people too. Don’t ever think that just because they are small they don’t have their own experiences to people, places and things. Honoring your child’s feelings and needs is an important step in creating a respectful relationship with your child; in helping your child develop a clear sense of self; in developing healthy boundaries; and in knowing that it’s OK to say ‘no’.
© 2012 Christine Agro
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Christine Agro is a Clairvoyant, Naturopath, Master Herbalist, Conscious Mom and Author of 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously as well as of The Conscious Living Wisdom Cards (Special Moms’ Edition). Christine is founder of The Conscious Mom’s Guide , a membership site where she helps support you on your own journey of living life consciously and on your journey of being a Conscious parent. You can also join Christine on Facebook. To contact Christine, invite her to speak or to schedule an appointment with her please email her.