How important is communication from early ages?
I see parents who freeze every time their child does something disturbing to them. They don’t know how to react, what to do, say, think. So they give whatever the child wants in those moments, forgetting about what they really need.
I see parents also getting angry. Is the child yelling? Adults yell back. Is the adult yelling? The child is listening, watching and imitating.
And I see parents who understand that children came into this life after their parents and they are too little to figure things out on their own. Having few months/ years of life they need to feel adults’ guidance. They need discipline. And real discipline for children was never done by screaming/pulling/grabbing/etc., etc.
These tiny feet jumping around, no matter how annoying their behavior might be, they need no screaming from adults’ side. Not even labeling.
See the able not the label
I remember hearing a child carer speaking with a parent in front of his child, with a frustrated and raised voice: Your child hit again someone at school. Your child is naughty!”. I could only sadly look at the child who was staring at the floor, convinced that he was nothing but bad.
“The way we talk with our children becomes their inner voice.” Peggy O’Mara
Another time I saw how a child was pulled and screamed at because he pushed another kid on the floor. ‘Why did you do that?! You are bad!’. Or how many times a child has heard that he is a good boy only if he eats his food?
It’s sad, really disturbing to see that adults many time react in such destructive way, when they could just tolerate children’s actions and stop them from hitting. Children can be taught with patience, really. It’s possible.
If you ever find yourself screaming, take a moment to see what you produce in a child’s eyes. Is it fear? Will he learn something positive from this?
Will the child come naturally to you, next time he is confused and in need of help?
A child needs our guidance and help to put logic in their thoughts. Any child needs to feel understanding, support, and affection even in those times when they do something “naughty”. Maybe then is the time when children need us the most.
There is no need for finger pointing, shouting or screaming when a child does something wrong. In fact, that is the real issue, to consider that children are doing wrong things and label their identity according to their behavior, which is a destructive method in children’s development.
“Once you label me, you negate me” Soren Kierkegaard
Children do not do “something wrong” even though we often see it this way. They simply explore and test their surroundings and adults boundaries.
Often when a parent or a teacher wishes to teach a child a lesson, they mostly do it when something is already “wrong”. The lesson is often given in a harsh manner, and its purpose is to have an obeyed child.
Since children observe, absorb and model adults’ behavior, the lesson received will most likely produce the same attitude, which in this case, is a harsh one. Many children will grow isolated and frustrated when they are punished or corrected for reasons they do not understand. The correcting behavior method often blends with the punisher’s anger and it is seen as a tornado in children’s eyes. Again, no need for that.
If you want a child to learn, understand his height, his world, and his emotions. Understand that a child learns by association and when patience and care are provided.
Yes, adults can’t be at all times calm, and yes they have a variety of emotions and it’s perfectly alright, because children learn that it’s healthy to express emotions and that they don’t have to hide or suppress them.
Not reacting to your child does not mean you are giving in.
Discipline and its methods are often wrongly understood. Teachers and often parents, don’t want to be soft in their manners, because they think that is not discipline and children will learn nothing but chaos.
But the real chaos is produced when they think that being soft means having no boundaries. So adults believe that to discipline children you must be firm, which is a good belief if applied with care. Unfortunately, often this does not happen.
When you as an adult want to be firm and teach children valuable lessons, do it with care and patience. Being firm and caring at the same time will give you more chances to be listened and understood by those little hearts. It’s possible.
“Thinking of your child as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment. Thinking of your child as struggling to handle something difficult, encourages you to help them through their distress.”
If a child did something that you consider it as wrong, don’t define his identity based on his behavior. Try to not repeatedly question the child with “why did you do this?!” followed by a sharp and cold tone.
Instead, understand his emotions, observe his actions and help him understand the consequences of doing something considered as wrong. For example, if your child hit someone, don’t grab him and quickly send him to that time-out chair and burst into anger. He will obey, yes, but out of fear. He won’t associate the hitting with the consequences – to feel hurt. Your child will instead think: “if I do that, mom/ teacher will get angry.” This is not a way of helping children to grow. What you can do when you want to stop an unwanted behavior is simply telling your child “I will not allow you to do that” follow by the “why not” explanation. E.g.: I will not allow you to do that, it hurts.
So if your child hit someone, stop him by holding his arm and tell him firmly but in a calm tone: “I will not allow you to hit, it hurts. You can play again after you calm down.” Give him few minutes to sit in a spot that will not distract him, but calms him down. And also understand what made him react in the way he did. Often these reactions hide frustration, wanting something they can’t have or not feeling understood. See what is hidden and try to offer support.
“Yelling silences your message. Speak quietly so your children can hear your words instead of just your voice. L. R. Knost
All these actions are not science fiction, it is possible dear parents/teacher or babysitters. It is also possible to apologize and show where you, as an adult, did wrong. After all, the magic words such as “please and thank you”, “sorry” etc., are first heard from us in order to be used by the little ones.
If we want to nurture and develop a healthier behavior, then we first must observe our own actions and focus on the tone when sending a message. Arm yourself with patience, and expect result in long run not overnight.
The more we yell, the more we feed the real elephant in the room and make children feel invisible. They matter, they are the future adults and it is way easier to correct and guide them now than it is later.