Let me start by stating the obvious. I don’t have kids, so not an expert. Not that having a kid makes you an expert, but you know. I’m also not an LFMT or child/adolescent therapist. However, I’ve had interactions with kids and seen them interact with their caretakers and others adults/kids enough times, to notice some patterns and be able to make some generalizations.

Threats

A lot of parents use threats as a way to get their children to “behave”. That’s extremely dangerous for the child’s emotional well-being. “I’ll go and you’ll be alone and the bad monster will come and eat you.” Stop threatening your kids. According to Piaget, known for his pioneering work in child development (as well as waking up every day at 4 am to write at least 4 pages #goals),  kids roughly between the ages 2 and 7 are in the preoperational stage, they’re highly egotistical, it’s all about them. Their needs. Their desires. Piaget also mentioned being unable to see things from others’ points of view as a characteristic of the preoperational stage. I have an issue (as does everyone in the psychology field) with the term normal, but it’ll have to do for now to explain children’s behaviour is perfectly normal (we didn’t spend an entire semester *cough* year *cough* in abnormal psych talking about what even is normal for me to have this conversation again goddamnit.) Threatening them messes up with their self-confidence and sets them up for creating an unhealthy attachment style, which will affect them throughout their entire lives.  Which brings me to…

Conditional love

Children need to feel secure in order to develop a healthy attachment style (attachment styles are très important, this covers all the basics). Children need to know their parents or primary caregivers will be there for them, even if they mess up and do something wrong don’t even get me started on how long we talked about right and wrong. Telling your kids you’ll only love them if they do (or don’t do) x thing might get you what you want, but at what cost?

Non-quality time

Have you heard of love languages? After thirty-five years of pastoring and marriage counseling, Dr. Gary Chapman came up with the concept that has saved and created thousands of thriving marriages and relationships. The book is pretty interesting, and you can take the test online too.

One of the 5 love languages -and my main love language- is quality time.  Unfortunately, more often than I’d like I see parents spending non-quality time with their kids, at a coffee shop, usually, the parent is with a friend, both paying 0 attention to the child, who’s just been given a phone to keep them busy, while they carry on with their conversation. So lovely. No one asks or engages the child in any way. It’s like they’re not there. If the child can form basic sentences, you can -and should- talk to them. I’m reading Mo Costandi’s Neuroplasticity, and this came to mind:

It showed that proper development of the visual cortex is highly dependent upon visual stimulation, and established the critical period- a narrow developmental time window during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to particular environmental stimuli- as a key concept not only in developmental neuroscience but also in psychology.

Please, stimulate your children brains. Include your children. Make them feel seen and valued.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Forced adulthood

A friend of mine, a teenager at the time, had to actually raise her baby sister, a job she miraculously great at, despite being extremely unqualified. Don’t treat children like adults. Let them have a childhood and let them enjoy it, they’ll have plenty of time to be grown. Whereas maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age, and some kids can be mature for their age, they’re still kids nonetheless. Holding them to impossible standards is just setting them up for failure, as well as making sure they will hold themselves to impossible standards when they grow up, then their kids… You can break the cycle. Don’t force children into adulthood.  Which brings me to…

Sexualizing kids

Not necessarily your own, but kids in general. Don’t sexualize them. Please. If you have something to say about a kid wearing something you consider too short or provocative for a kid, firstly, don’t say it and secondly, check yo damn self. Listen to yourself. Let kids be kids and wear whatever the fuck they want. The over-sexualization of little girls is especially used as an excuse to justify predatory behavior and pedophilia. Some time ago, I was walking down the street with some friends, and one of them commented on a girl’s who’d just walked by clothing, something my friend deemed inappropriate for a ~10-year-old. I just said what I wrote above, and she paused for a sec, then said actually you’re right. That felt good, and sometimes that’s all it takes. Each of us can help make the world a kinder, safer place, even if just a little bit.

No apologies

Apology n. the study of apples

Jokes aside, that seems to be most parents’ POV. You have to apologize to your kids, though. You have to validate their feelings and concerns and be fair to them. Create healthy boundaries for children since early on. Be honest and apologize when you should.

Not teaching them about consent

Teach them about consent. Teach them about consent.

kənˈsɛnt
noun
1. permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.

Teach them about consent. The sooner, the better.

Not appreciating their brilliance

Kids are fucking amazing.

Not appreciating their parents

Parents, that’s your own damn selves. You truly have the hardest job in the world. Kudos to you badasses.

Disclaimer: I’m aware I’ve probably missed a million things and that I may die laughing at this when I become a parent.

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