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10 Reasons Why Parents Should Treat Their Kids As Adults

10 Reasons Why Parents Should Treat Their Kids As Adults

Three years ago, my eldest daughter attended her friend’s birthday party. I was busy attending to my other children when the mother handed my daughter a piece of cake. I asked my daughter, “Did you say, ‘Thank you’?” My daughter said yes, she had. But the mother interjected with, “Meh, they’re kids. Kids don’t need to have manners.” I was quite taken aback. I’ve never been a supporter of the saying, “kids will be kids.” I have three young children and I believe that children are a lot more capable than we all realize. If we set low expectations for children, we get low results. But when we see them as little people who can be taught how to be kind and considerate, then their future prospects will be so very different.

Here are 10 reasons why parents should sometimes treat their kids as adults.

1. Your kids will have a better understanding of boundaries.

The phrase “kids will be kids” is often used as a justification for misbehavior. For example, a child pushes in front of the line to get to the playground slide and someone comments, “kids will be kids.” As much as young children’s brains are developing, they still have the ability to learn what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

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If we, as parents, believe that “John needs to realize that it is not okay to push in front of the line,” then chances are, our child will start to understand this too. It’s about setting boundaries and teaching them etiquette rules that will be useful for the rest of their life.

2. Your kids will better understand responsibility.

Children shouldn’t grow up stress-ridden, but they need to learn the basics of being responsible. For example, as adults, we might have children or pets to look after. We have housework to do. We have food to cook. If we let our children help with some of these activities, they will learn that responsibilities are a part of life. If you encourage your child to make their bed every day, to help wash up after dinner, to feed the pet goldfish, then you are teaching them that success happens when people work together.

3. Your kids might do more than what is expected of them.

For many of us, being told “Oh, you wouldn’t understand” would leave us feeling quite hurt, offended, or angry. For children, their reaction would probably be similar. But If you challenge your children and give them the opportunity to prove themselves, then you’re basically telling them, “I believe in you. I think you’re capable.” If you’re anxious about your child doing the dishes and never ask them to, then you’re depriving yourself and them of the chance to prove that they can. But if you give them that chance, they might even start doing extra housework you never asked them to do.

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4. Your kids will appreciate the value of being kind and considerate.

Teaching your children empathy is one of the most important skills you can pass on. In a world where competition and power can often override caring about others, it is essential to focus our parenting on kindness. Rather than looking at our kids and thinking, “They’re too young to understand how other people feel,” teach them to know how others are feeling. If your young child hears another child crying, make a comment, “Aww, that girl is crying. She must be feeling sad. I hope she is okay.” In addition to this, acknowledge and validate your own child’s feelings.

5. Your kids will find it easier to believe in themselves.

If you, the parent, believe in your child, then chances are they will believe in themselves too. As adults, we know that life is filled with ups and downs. We know that sometimes there are setbacks that leave us struggling to get back up. If you encourage your child and value who they are, they are very likely to feel the same about themselves. They will feel confident about who they are and use that confidence to get them through life.

6. Your kids will become stronger and more resilient.

We parents often depend on what we believe parenting should be. For some, being a parent is simply about protecting their child. For others, it’s about preparing their child for the future. Striking a balance between the two is probably more ideal. Rather than trying to protect your children from all pain and suffering, do your best to help them cope with any future pain and suffering. If they don’t win a prize in pass-the-parcel, don’t be in a hurry to tell the parents to find one for your child. Let them learn how to deal with pain. Let them prove to themselves that they are strong and can cope with disappointment. As an adult, this resilience will help them immensely in all areas of their life.

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7. Your kids will understand that you can’t always get what you want.

If you’re walking through the supermarket with your young child and they’re screaming for a chocolate bar, don’t feel pressured into buying it for them. As difficult as it is to resist the temptation to keep them quiet, you need to believe that your child is capable of calming down without it. Your child will learn to better self-regulate their emotions and start to realize that you can’t always get what you want in life.

8. Your kids will learn how valuable it can be to share experiences with others.

You might see fathers work on their cars with their kids. You might see mothers cooking with their children. You might see either mother or father sharing their hobbies and interests with their young children. Doing “things that adults do” with your child helps them realize that life isn’t about being on your own—it’s about experiencing the journey of life with other people. This is an important lesson to teach your child because surrounding themselves with a supportive network of people will help them get through the challenges of life. They will have people to count on, people they can trust, people who make their lives better.

9. Your kids will really feel that they matter.

When we sometimes look at our kids as adults, they are more likely to feel that they are just like everyone else. Their age doesn’t mean that they don’t matter. Their thoughts and opinions are not any less important or valid. Let your child voice their thoughts on controversial topics. Let them express the individual that they are without censoring them completely. By seeing your child for who they are, rather than what you want them to be, you’re reminding them that they matter.

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10. Your kids will grow up believing they really can make a difference.

Most parents want to raise children who grow up being happy and successful. They don’t want much for them, aside from knowing that they are living a life that makes them happy and that they are utilizing their talents. When your kids tell you what they want to be when they grow up, don’t dismiss them. Don’t laugh. Encourage them and their dreams—even if those dreams are likely to change many times in a year. When you treat your children like adults, their thirst for knowledge increases. They might just understand and believe you when you say that they really can make a difference. That they are not just one person in this world. They are actually one person who has the potential to change the world.

Featured photo credit: Grand Velas Riviera Maya via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 15, 2018

Parents Are Their Own Worst Enemies

Parents Are Their Own Worst Enemies

The pressure to be a good parent is real. All this pressure comes at us from internal and external sources that converge and make a perfect storm for parents to lose any confidence they had as parents. We, as parents have the power to overcome our own worst enemy, which is ourselves.

Video Summary

As parents, we encounter messages on a daily basis that tell us how we need to do things in a different or better way. We hear messages that we need to expect more of our kids, we need to not be so hard on our kids, we should vaccinate, we shouldn’t vaccinate, we need to be involved with our kids, we shouldn’t be helicopter parents, we need to help our kids with their homework, we need to let our kids do their own homework, and a plethora of other mixed messages. All these messages turn into self talk one way or the other.

Everyone has a running conversation of self talk going on in their own head. As parents, our self talk can revolve around our abilities as parents. Are we doing things the best way for our kids? Are we doing thing that we think are good, but could in fact be harmful? We have so many messages coming at us in all directions that it becomes easy to question every decision we make as parents. Thus, it becomes far to easy to be hard on ourselves as parents.

Parents Are Their Own Worst Critics

Your own worst enemy in life is yourself. Typically there is nobody who will say more negative things to you than you will to yourself. It is the self talk that goes on in your head all day long that provides for the negative commentary to yourself. You need to stop the negative self talk today as it constantly breaking down your confidence as a parent. There are tips further in the article that will help empower you to overcome this negative self talk.

Are we good enough?

As parents, one thing we are constantly asking ourselves mentally is are we good enough and are we doing enough for our kids. Any good parents wonders this from time to time. Self analysis is helpful at time. However, if we are doing it too often, we begin to doubt ourselves and second guess our decisions as parents. Allowing negative self talk that undermines our skills as parents can hinder our confidence as parents. In turn, it makes it more difficult to parent when we are always questioning our capabilities as parents.

Are we doing things the best way possible?

We, as parents, need to let go of perfect. Perfect is unattainable. The pursuit of perfect leads to frustration and defeat. Instead of pursing perfection, we need to chose a good path for parenting that is best for our own family and let of trying to be the best and do the best. Let it go and instead just be present.

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Are we comparing our kids and ourselves to others?

We live in a culture where it is extremely easy to compare ourselves to others. You only need a few minutes on social media to compare yourself and your life to hundreds if not thousands of others. The problem is that what is portrayed on social media is not the whole story. Our tendency to compare ourselves to others leads to discontentment. When you feed yourself messages of discontent on a regular basis, you will begin to feel like a defeated individual and parent, as you can never measure up when compared to others.

If you feel like you or your children will never live up to the level of how others live, then you won’t. The real problem is that you are ignoring your individuality as a family. Each of you is unique, as is your family. Don’t compare yourself to others, because its like comparing apples and oranges.

Be a Confident Parent

The best way to overcome the greatest enemy in your life as a parent is to become a confident parent. Easier said than done of course. However, there are some things that you can do to become more confident in your parenting and the feedback in your head can become more positive and encouraging. Below are some ways that you can create more confidence in yourself regarding your parenting abilities.

1. Become your own encourager through positive self talk

To become more confident, you need to start shutting down that voice in your head that says that you are not good enough or you are doing enough for your child. For some moms, this is the “bad mom syndrome”. It is that voice in your own head that says you are a “bad mom”. It often comes from building a list of all your mommy failures so you feel an overwhelming source of guilt which leads to this “bad mom syndrome”.

Saying this to yourself will not make you a better mom. It will only make you feel like a failure and defeated. You are not defeated. Those discouraging messages are not helpful to you or your child. It is ok to have uncertainty from time to time. However, it is not ok to allow yourself to feel less than adequate for your child. If you truly feel inadequate get some professional help from a counselor. They can help empower you as a parent.

You need to make yourself aware of negative self talk and change the course of the message while it is happening. For example, you may scream and yell at your child for forgetting to turn in their homework. You then start beating yourself up about the yelling because you know you were wrong to react that way. Instead of internally beating yourself up, stop the negative self talk as soon as you know it has started. Look at it as an opportunity to recognize the triggers that led to the outburst, perhaps you had a bad day at work. Then tell yourself you will do better next time. You also take the time to think through how you need to approach your child and apologize for the yelling and then discuss calmly why they didn’t turn in their homework. This method of thinking of solutions and encouraging yourself that things can be worked through is growth as a parent. It is also a way of shutting down the negative self talk and replacing it with solutions and/or positive messages.

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PsychCentral made a great point about self talk and the power we have in ourselves to change these thoughts:[1]

You can test, challenge and change your self-talk. You can change some of the negative aspects of your thinking by challenging the irrational parts and replacing them with more reasonable thoughts.

2. Reduce stress and fatigue in your own life

Parents are better parents when they are less stressed out. When we feel stressed out as parents, we sometimes take it out on the ones who are closest in proximity. If you are at home in the evening with your kids and you have a mile long to-do list along with lots of other external stress going on, it becomes difficult to be kind, calm, and loving to our children. Our children are precious and impressionable. They don’t deserve unkind words or treatment because we are feeling utterly and completely stressed out and overworked.

Research by Your Modern Family looked at what children want most from their parents. The results from their research showed that the number one thing kids want from their parents is for “their parents to be less stressed and less tired”.[2] This is quite telling. It shows that we need to dial back things in life that cause extreme stress and exhaustion. It may be difficult to do this for some, as it can require a major overhaul in your life structure and activities.

For other parents, it can be more simple solutions, as suggested in the Modern Family article including: getting on a schedule, having kids help with chores, getting things ready the night before, waking up before your kids, doing meal plans that work for your family, getting organized, planning ahead, and laughing. Start finding ways to reduce stress in your life and you will see that your children are less stressed and happier as well.

We are all better parents when we are less stressed out. Do what it takes to reduce your stress as it does in fact affect your child’s mental well-being. Kids are smart, intuitive, and sensitive to the emotions of their parents. Don’t go through life pretending not to be stressed. Take action today to reduce stress in your life. Sometimes the solution is saying no and reducing activities. Do it for the sake of your children. It is the one thing children want most- less stress, less tired parents.

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3. Simply be present for your kids and let go of perfection

Allowing yourself and your children to be something other than the best can be empowering. It allows you to be present with your children and embrace them for their own uniqueness. It also allows you to accept your circumstances for what they are, which is likely not the best or perfect.

One of the best thing you can do for your kids is simply be there for them. Kids yearn for time with their parents. They may not always say it or express it, but they want their parents. It is difficult to create family memories if you don’t spend time together. Make the time to be with your children. It doesn’t need to be a special occasion or a Disney experience either. Just sitting together to have dinners as family and talking to your kids is what they need for positive memories to be made.

Knowing that their parents are there to talk with them and to listen to them, is a wonderful gift to your children. In our era of busy lives and trying so hard to be the best parents we often overlook the most important factor in parenting, which is simply being present in our child’s life. Sometimes we need to dial back the schedule so that we are spending time together. Taking them from one activity to the next is not quality time together. Allowing for time to be home and interacting with one another, without distractions, is quality time. Be present to allow for open conversations to occur.

Pscyhology Today discussed the topic of being a parent who is present and gave some specific tips. One of the top tips they provided was to stop multitasking.[3] This article stated,

“The first thing to recognize is that, try as we might, we really can only do one thing at a time, so we ought to do that thing wholeheartedly”

When you want to be present with you children, then don’t text, do other tasks, or work on other projects. Devote your attention solely to you child.

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When you allow yourself to be fully present with your child, it becomes easier to appreciate the small things in life. Your child will grow up fast, you hear it from other parents quite often how they grow up too fast. Take the time to appreciate the precious little things in life, such as watching your child become overjoyed because they won at a board game you were playing, or watching your child teach their new puppy how to sit, or watching your child successfully ride a bike for the first time. All of these small things in life end up being the big things in life. Be present with your child so that you can enjoy and appreciate the small things in life.

4. Don’t get pressured into taking bad advice

Everyone has an opinion these days. It doesn’t mean that you need to heed the advice of everyone. You have permission as a parent to disregard the advice of others, including from loved ones including your own parents. Their intentions are good. They want to help you and your child be successful and happy. The problem is that the methods your parents utilized 20 or 30 years ago may be outdated. They didn’t know better. Now we have research on virtually any parenting issue there is out there.

Do your own research, so you have peace of mind that your selected parenting methods are what is best for your child. It is also nice to have this research in your back pocket so when someone questions your methods you have research and data to prove your selected ways are best. It’s hard for someone to argue with science. They can try, but facts and data are truths at the end of the day.

5. Don’t compare yourself to others

Don’t allow yourself get sucked into the comparison game. A lot of this has to do with the self talk in your head. You have the ability to stop the self talk and change its course to something that is more positive. When you start comparing yourself or your children to others, stop and replace that self talk with thoughts about how you are all unique, special, and gifted in different ways than any other family.

Along with comparing your children includes the topic of managing your expectations. If your child is an average student, then don’t expect them to get into the gifted program at school. Be realistic with your child’s abilities. When you have unrealistic expectations it puts pressure on both you and the child. This pressure is not needed in life, as it will only bring disappointment when the expectations are too high and can never be met. Keep it real, and allow yourself to see that your child may not be the best or the brightest. They are unique and special in their own way, but it doesn’t mean that they are going to be the very best at everything or anything at all. Let them know that its ok because they are loved for exactly who they are and special because of their uniqueness.

If you have friends who like to play the comparison game, then don’t hang out with them. They will not help bring you up as a parent. Their goal is to make comparisons so they can feel better about themselves, their life, and their abilities as a parent. Their goal in no way involves helping you feel better or lifting you up and encouraging you as a parent. Cut the negative thoughts out, especially if they are coming from another person. You are doing yourself and your child a disservice by spending your precious and limited time with someone who is using comparison to bring you down in order to bring themselves up. Life is too short, find someone who wants to be a true friend.

Parenting Is Hard Work, Take Time for Yourself

Parents need a break from time to time. Don’t forget about taking care of yourself while in the midst of your parenting experience. Take time to do things that you enjoyed doing before you had kids. Keep up with hobbies and things that you enjoy doing. Allowing time for your hobbies and taking care of yourself allows you to be more relaxed, less stressed out, and happier in the long run.

Of course, there is moderation for everything. I am not saying leave your family every night to work out at the gym for three hours. Your family takes priority over your hobbies. However, in order to be a well balanced and happy individual you need to schedule time each week for your hobby, whatever that may be. Which is exactly why my kids are at home with a sitter every Friday afternoon and I am sitting at Starbucks right now, sipping my favorite Chai Latte, listening to music on earbuds, and typing this article.

Reference

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