Reading Time: 4 minutes
‘Beating or spanking is a power game. Letting the child understand the adult is bigger, stronger and he is smaller, younger and can’t defend himself, so he can be spanked, is a power game and it inflicts pain.’
Lean Ambuwaya – Children’s right Activist and CEO, Terry Children Foundation
As we all (I hope) know by now, children learn first from parents. They observe adults’ emotions, behavior and they always look up for guidance and affection. It is more than a necessity that adults become more responsible for their selves. Learning to be aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behavior is vital since children can easily reproduce what they see and hear.
Knowing is not enough
When you know but you don’t do anything about it, it is same as not knowing. Every child’s first years are the most important in their life. Mostly because that is the time when they learn about themselves and the world they’re in.At no other stage in life, humans can learn that fast. These years are the base of any human being. In this time we can help a child’s ability to focus, create and understand. This is the best time to teach our children about confidence and connection.
The way a child is raised in the first three years of his life will have an impact in this future. His environment, their parents’ presence, the love and patience he receives is valuable. During this time, adults can monitor what goes on within their selves. The more we try, the more we make a positive impact. It can be harder to adopt new ways of parenting and easier to just continue with the familiar habits. It takes courage and what yesterday may have been a struggle, today can be an opportunity for a healthier way of parenting.
There are parenting books, parents can ask for help, can share stories, identify child’s needs and respond with patience and love. It is possible. All we need to remember is that what we give as lessons and how we set boundaries, will make an impact.
Don’t impose your version on your child
“A mother took her five-year-old son shopping at a large department store during the Christmas season. She knew it would be fun for him to see all the decoration, windows displays, toys, and Santa Claus. As she dragged him by the hand, twice as fast as his little legs could move, he began to fuss and cry, clinging to his mother’s coat. ‘Good heavens, what on earth is the matter with you?’ she scolded impatiently. ‘I brought you with me to get in the Christmas spirit. Santa doesn’t bring toys to little cry-babies!’
His fussing continued as she tried to find some bargains during the last-minute rush on 23 December. ‘I’m not going to take you shopping with me, ever again, if you don’t stop that whimpering’, she admonished. ‘Oh well, maybe it’s because your shoes are untied and you are tripping over your own laces’, she said, kneeling down in the aisle to tie his shoes. As she knelt down beside him, she happened to look up.
For the first time, she viewed a large department store through the eyes of a five-year-old. From that position, there were no baubles, bangles, beads, presents, gaily decorated display tables, or animated toys. All that could be seen was a maze of corridors too high to see above, full of giants moving about on legs as large as trees. These mountainous strangers, with feet as big as skateboards, were pushing and shoving, bumping and thumping, rushing and crushing!
She took her child home and vowed to herself never to impose her version of a good time on him again.”
(Source: Jan Sutton& William Stewart – Learning to Counsel)
What can be done?
How can we make it better? Just like with adults we can start by listening carefully, (words, non-verbal messages, and voice-related cues, every little gesture matters). Trying to identify the feelings instead of assuming, is also something we depend on when we want a better communication and a healthier relationship with our children. Showing understanding and being careful at how we deliver a message is necessary since children, just like adults, hear the tone first and not the message.
The way we respond, matters. So if we try to respond not by evaluating or judging but by showing patience and acceptance things will improve. It won’t be an easy process but we will be amazed on how this will work in a child’s mind. Later on, we will receive understanding and affection from our children. What we grow now it won’t guarantee a certain path, but for sure children will remember parents’ presence in their life.
What’s beautiful is that applying these steps, we not only improve our relationship with the little ones but we increase our self-awareness, having a better understanding when entering in someone else’s frame of reference, our children or another adult.
More important, children in their first years of life don’t have logic in their thoughts. They depend so much on us when it comes to expressing their feelings and managing emotions when mistakes are done and the feeling of guilt kicks in. Guidance is needed here and now.
Be a positive example
When parents want to correct their children’s behavior, they often react not act.
Punishments are often applied, motivated by anger and insisting on the past actions.
I hear so many times that a bit of spanking is alright and that this will teach children a lesson. If your child has done something you consider wrong, in reality, it may not be seen same in his little world, he is just exploring his will.
By the way parents act, they can show appropriate behavior. Children can learn that is ok to make mistakes and that this is part of the learning process.
As a parent, you can be consistent about rules and discipline without spanking or any other power game that inflicts pain. You may want to apply what you have seen or experienced as a child. Instead, I invite you to remember and process how you felt when this kind of “teaching” was applied to you.
Every time we shout, we create distance and every time we spank or call out names, we create fear.
If spanking does something is to release the parent’s frustration and increasing the child’s.
We can do so much better than that. If we want to build a better communication, we can start by pausing and thinking of how we can connect with the little ones. It’s not about them understanding us, it’s more about us understanding their world and accepting their pace.
Showing understanding and patience can make a difference
Children will feel more confident and secured while exploring, and they won’t hide or feel ashamed when they’ll do mistakes. On the contrary, they will come and ask for support and love.
Each time we manifest ourselves, there is a child looking up, watching, and he is learning faster than we could ever imagine.