Monday, October 7, 2013

Control Your Child! Mindful Parenting and Respectful Language

"From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen."
~ Cat Stevens

Is your child giving you a hard time, or is he having a hard time?
The difference can be a crucial one. 
Those of us who practice respectful parenting will, on occasion, get told that our children are misbehaving or being rude because we're not strict enough. We may even get scolded and told to control our children. This sort of thing happens most often when your child is behaving in a way some other adult deems inappropriate. 

A child who is labeled by others as being "out of control" can cause a range of emotions for his parents including embarrassment, anger, shame, defensiveness, aggressiveness, even self righteousness. In our efforts to handle our confused emotions we aren't always our best selves.

Perhaps you would never tell another parent to control their children. But I wonder - if we were all to be very honest - how many of us have moments when we are actually trying to control our own children. 

Don't do that. 
Don't touch that. 
Stop singing so loudly. 
Sit still until we've all finished our meal! 
If you don't stop bothering your sister you won't get to go to the park later!
Give Henry that toy, he's been waiting a long time. 

And even though we may use different words, what we're conveying is, "Control yourself! Or, if you can't, I will do it for you!" There's a difference, of course, between controlling a child and setting firm boundaries for him or her - but many adults who practice a more old-school way of parenting don't always see this. Instead of offering their understanding when a child is having a hard time, they can opt, instead, for loudly admonishing the offending parent to make sure their children behave more appropriately. 

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