I come across situations with my work where we as parents get angry at our kids. We get angry at the speed that they are learning things, or the fact that they don’t seem to be learning, or we get angry at how they express their emotions and experiences as they are learning.
I don’t mean ‘learning’ at school in this instance.
I’m talking about how children grow into their personalities, and how they learn and start using values and beliefs as a moral compass for life.
We are told that it is important for kids to show empathy to others for example, but this may not show up too obviously in your child and we then get a) angry that they didn’t show empathy when someone got hurt or was upset, but then we get doubly angry when b) we can’t seem to teach them how to be empathetic and we seem to be failing.
It’s curious to me that we put so much time and effort into fighting this battle. Because the battle is with ourselves, it’s not even with our kids.
I have 2 children where showing empathy, and feeling, to others is not a priority. It’s not the way they think and it’s not a strength of their personality. However, with 2 children that DO strongly empathize with others, I can quite clearly say that whether empathy exists or not doesn’t seem to have come from my style of parenting. So, in other words I’m neither failing or succeeding in this – it just is.
Children are not going out of their way to make you look like you are failing.
They are just trying to figure things out the best they can. The way they figure stuff out may not match how YOU want them to do it, but they are NOT riling you up on purpose.
They MAY be just different to you.
It MAY mean that their road is harder or easier than yours was, but different doesn’t mean wrong, or bad, or evil. It’s just different.
So, don’t get into a fight over these differences:
- Take a step back
- calm down
- acknowledge what you wanted your child to do or say
- think about what they are actually doing
- unless it is putting himself or herself in danger, or is a danger to others is there still learning happening here? Or an opportunity for learning?
A lot of our stress and anger can be erased if we just let kids do what they are supposed to do, which is be kids and figure things out and learn things their way, rather than turn them into mini adults before their time.
AND … Our version of the sort of adult we want them to be may NEVER be as cool, or amazing, or awesome as the adult version if themselves that THEY come up with.
So, relax, don’t fight kids learning things in different ways. It’s what they are supposed to do.