Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kids Are People Too!

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people treat their kids like an accessory or even a pet. We seem to forget that just like us, they have wants/needs/desires/etc and it’s up to us to help them to feel fulfilled. Too often people tend to just shove their kids feelings aside thinking things like “Oh he’s just a kid, what does it matter?” Right from the get go we have people telling us how we should raise our children. There are hundreds of books written about how your kid is feeling, how he’s confused, how he doesn’t know better. But it’s not very often I’m told to just listen to my child. 

How many times have you been told that you need to let your child “cry it out” so that they’ll learn to sleep through the night? That they don’t know better and that when they wake up in the middle of the night asking for you it’s because they’re just needy or asking for you out of habit? Personally, I’ve heard it a ton. From family, from doctors, from friends. I had one person tell me all of the time that if I gave into my crying daughter that she would learn to manipulate me. That seems so crazy to me! 

Early on in my daughter’s life I decided to treat her like person and not just a baby. I figured that whatever I’m feeling in life, she’s probably feeling something similar. I try to imagine what it would be like if someone were telling me the things I tell my daughter. When it came to sleep habits I never let her cry it out, I always “parented” her to sleep by either rocking or nursing her. I started to realize that if I couldn’t always just drift off to sleep easily, why should I expect her to? When she woke in the middle of the night and wanted to nurse I let her. If I got thirsty in the middle of the night, maybe she does too?

I truly believe that it’s the little things that make a difference. While I know my daughter isn’t old enough to make a lot of her own decisions, I try to respect the fact that she still has a voice and an opinion, and one that she’s entirely entitled to. I do my best to never just say no and leave it at that. I offer her up an explanation, never resorting to things like “because I said so that’s why!” or “life’s tough, deal with it.”  I try to give her choices rather than just expect her to go along with what I say. 

I once watched an episode of Olivia that had the little girl upset that she had to share all of her favourite toys. She didn’t see how it was fair that she always had to share because grown ups don’t have to do it. It may seem trivial to some but it makes total sense to me! If I walked up to a friend or neighbor and told them they had to share their car do you think they should have to? Would you eat a dinner that you really didn’t like? Would you feel comfortable in a room full of strangers touching your stuff? 

Our kids learn from us. They do what we do because they idolize us. It’s our job to teach them how to be respectful and it’s impossible to do that if we aren’t respecting them. I’m definitely not a perfect parent, I make mistakes too, but it’s not an unattainable task to treat our kids as people. It doesn’t even take much effort, just a general understanding of our own feelings, and the same level of respect you show your friends. Of course kids still need structure and discipline, but why can’t it be done in a loving, respectful, and person to person kind of way?
My best parenting advice? Just listen to your child, and treat them with respect. 


1 comment:

  1. These are the things I try to remind myself of when I am frustrated with the boys. They are people and they deserve to have their curiosity satisfied no matter how annoyed I get with answering a million questions :D