“Don’t give me any of your lip.” “Who asked for your two cents?” “When I want to know what you think, I’ll ask.” “Another word from you and….” “You’re too big for your boots, know your place…”…
A number of us have been raised hearing similar phrases. We were raised with the rule that as children we were to be “seen and not heard“. Contrary to common belief this notion wasn’t instilled in only children of color. It was in fact built upon the Victorian belief that children, being so young and inexperienced are incapable of rational thought and thus their opinions should be disregarded. It is also linked to the time old concept that children are the property of their parents. Times have changed. Modern psychology has debunked these myths. Ironically, as we claim to be more modern and enlightened `parents, when our children over steps the traditional boundaries we inadvertently put them in their place. Times haven’t changed that much after all.
Our responses and reactions are costly. We deny children a voice, we cull that that awesomeness, that confidence and innate ability for them to think critically without being reprimanded. How can we have awesomeness without the sass and attitude? Here are simple solutions for calm and heated scenarios. The secret to getting results is combing both (heated and calm), consistently, over a period of time.
When things are calm and they have a opinion –
- Always, always encourage children to think for themselves. Ask them “why?”. Ask “what if”. Ask “how”. Instead of “Did you” use “Tell me”.
- Reinforce these respectful, calm dialogues with praise; provide more future opportunities.
When things get heated and they have an opinion –
- Before giving a child a matter-of-fact response, first acknowledge their feelings then set your expectations. Here are some great examples.
- If they insist, enforce a respectful consequence relevant to their age and the situation.
There is something powerful about acknowledging a child’s feelings. Adults literally pay psychologists for this. Children also need it. Once that’s done, return to the situation and set your expectations. You don’t lose your authority as the parent and there shouldn’t be a power struggle.
Today more than ever we need more girls with bold ideas, girls who are critical thinkers, confident girls. Girls who can lead and not only follow. Girls who are respectful but can be seen and heard. These are the building blocks.