Have you ever heard that “violence engenders violence”?
With that simple statement you should realize love is what children need to become responsible, coherent, sensible and respectful individuals, and in the end, to be HAPPY.
I suggest you an easy exercise to appreciate what things you want in your life, and the ones you don’t.
Option 1 → imagine you have a fantastic partner. A person who gives you unconditional support, who trusts you and comforts you when you need it, you laugh together, no prejudices, you listen to each other, you are respectful to one another despite your differences, etc.
Option 2 → imagine you have a partner who never shows you any support. He/she is always suspicious. A person that says bad words to you when you need comfort. He/she is in a bad mood all the time; is disrespectful with your virtues and imperfections; you don’t talk or listen to each other; the (little) time you spend together, he/she only gives orders to you, always shouting, etc.
If you want violent children, use violence with them
Which kind of partner would you choose? I suppose you will say option number 1 (if you don’t, please, re-read the two options and answer once again) 😉
Why do we tend to think that the parents our children need have to be similar to partner number 2? Do we truly believe that children have to be judged, shouted, not supported, and psychologically hurt? Or could it be a lack of tools and the existent conservative culture regarding children’s education?
Today, I’d like to focus on these six tips for you to prevent your kids from becoming violent in the future (and also in the present):
1- Offer them ALL the attention they may need. Our children are born vulnerable, pure, and dependent. Little by little, they begin to find their place in the world, and for them to feel comfortable, secure and happy, they need to be accompanied by parents. And what does accompany mean? It’s to be with them through the good and the bad. Kids need our attention. If your son asks you to play with him, and you prefer to chat on Facebook, or he asks you to stay with him until he falls asleep, and you refuse it because you think “he’s going to get used to it.” In those cases not only you are not giving him the attention he requires, but you are encouraging frustration and anger to arise; you’ll get him feel unattended and lonely. It is important always to be there, to attend them whenever they need it; it’s the only way for them to grow a healthy self-esteem. And for those moments in which it’s absolutely impossible for you to be with them, please, do not tell them in an annoying or aggressive way. Express yourself with a supportive and serene talk, helping them to understand.
2- Communicate with them just the way you like others communicate with you, as simple as that: parents shouldn’t tell children off, nor mark or punish them. We just have to show them the path, and be a good guide for them. If you rebuke, argue and shout, that’s what they are going to learn. Then, you should not become frightened if you get a call from school warning that your kid has shouted or hit a classmate trying to impose his/her laws because that’s what you are teaching them at home. You must talk to your children with all the respect in the world, understanding that they will only learn it if they are treated as human beings. If you don’t like getting shouted or reprimanded when you fail, why would your children have to like it?
3- Work on being an example: you are the mirror they look at, the foundation of everything, the reflection of which they are going to feel identified during their whole life. If you insult people from different races, they will integrate it as positive. If you say bad words constantly, they will use them to express themselves. If you never brush your teeth, do not expect they learn it naturally. If you don’t read, do not be surprised if they don’t get a good reading habit. It would be a gross mistake to think that the education responsibility falls upon children when in fact parents are responsible for it. Their present and future emotional balance depend to the full extent on us.
4- Do not get obsessed with daily habits and routines: many families are more worried about their children’s ability to make the bed at the age of 9 than to attend their emotional needs. Afterwards, those parents won’t understand why the school’s psychologist calls them about their child’s lack of self-esteem. Regarding children’s education, we have to handle what’s crucial. When a person feels loved, accompanied, happy, safe, and not judged, he/she internalizes learnings. However, if you teach that person by obliging, humiliating, and telling off, he/she will end up loathing learning. So, if you want your children to internalize some daily routines (such as table setting, brushing their teeth, tidying up, etc.), you must do it yourself first. Next, you have to accompany them while they do it; the third step, do not oblige them if they don’t feel like doing it at that moment; and, finally, do not tell them off if they don’t do it, but try to talk about and understand. They learn everything by a good example, so you better make sure everything is funny for them, and try to ask yourself: “Are they going to spend a lifetime without brushing their teeth??” In fact, habits and routines are just a learning process, and kids will value all the benefits through your example, accompaniment, and understanding.
5- Tell children’s issues from adults’ issues: the way we see the world is far different from the way children do. Where we find a bed sheet painted with a marker, they see the great African Savannah which is perfect to play with their wild animal toys. Where we see a spilled glass of milk on the recently washed floor, they find a perfect sliding runway for their marbles. If before going crazy, you could stop, think, reflect, and acknowledge what’s going on in their minds, life would be much easier (yours and theirs). EMPATHY tends to be the great absentee of today’s education. If you manage to put yourself in their shoes, you’ll see yourself learning how to control your adult fury. Because that anger feeds on the frustration you feel every time your kids don’t behave as you expected. But what you must understand is that bringing up children is to let them be themselves, rather that the ones we would like them to be.
6- Accompany their emotions: many families spend their kids’ childhoods trying to prevent them from feeling inner emotions. They tell them things like “do not cry,” “do not get angry,” and so on. And that’s a huge mistake. If we restrain our children’s emotions that way, those will keep inside them. We must learn how to accompany those emotions because they are as valuable as happiness or joy can be. Anger, fury, sadness, they deserve being known and experienced by our kids, for them to learn how to manage their inner emotions correctly when they grow old, and also for them to understand others’ feelings, without judging or labeling.
The more love, respect, understanding and accompaniment we parents give our children, the less emotional and social deprivations they will have in their life -present and future.
Families often ask me if respectful education means lack of discipline. Not by a long shot. To be overly permissive and overprotective have negative consequences for them. To educate with respect means to find balance. A balance based on mutual respect, understanding that children have come to this world (well, we’ve brought them) to be happy alongside us. And using violence, they will NEVER be happy.
By using violence we do not only refer to punish, shout, hit, insult, force but also to a constant lack of attention, comparisons, labeling, judgments, obedience imposition, etc.
And that’s the reason why many parents of teenagers I work with keep telling me: “But, Tania, we’ve never shouted at, hit, not even punished him.” But the kid spent his early childhood with different babysitters, and when mom and dad arrived at home after work, it was too late to tell a bedtime story, but early enough to the brush-your-teeth lecture.
Your children’s future depends on you. Many other things may influence their lives, but you are the foundation. And with a good base, they can achieve everything.
Remember, if this was useful for you, please share 😉
Parent & Teacher Educator, Author, Expert in Respectful Education & Founder of Edurespect School