Dealing with anxious toddlers is difficult because toddlers are ten times worse than ordinary babies who have tantrums. They have anxiety issues in potty training, eating, listening, and obeying. Toddlers easily meltdown all the time, and that’s because they are so emotional. They don’t know how to control their feelings.
According to Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD, “Some kids experience anxiety more than others. About 15-20% of kids are born with a more anxious temperament (the amygdala part of their brains are more reactive to novel stimuli from the start).”
As a parent, you will want to do everything to help your child. However, Clark Goldstein, PhD points out, “When children are chronically anxious, even the most well-meaning parents can fall into a negative cycle and, not wanting a child to suffer, actually exacerbate the youngster’s anxiety. It happens when parents, anticipating a child’s fears, try to protect her from them.”
So how do you parent an anxious toddler? Let’s talk about the tips I’m going to share. Here are some broad strokes that are important for you to remember when it comes to parenting.
Teach Them To Express Their Feelings
Toddlers can’t express feelings just like that. Even if you think you know your kid, you don’t. Also, although they have a fantastic vocabulary and can directly tell people what’s on their mind, it doesn’t mean they can already figure out their anxious emotions. As a parent, you can teach them how to express their feelings so they won’t get used to melting down.
Encourage Them To Fight Fears
Letting your toddlers handle stressful situations is good. However, it doesn’t mean you have to throw them into things and expect them to do it when you tell them to. That way, instead of helping kids achieve stable mental and emotional states, you’re only adding pressure and stress. Alternatively, let them discover the things that scare them, provided that you’re going to guide them along the way. You have to be there with them and show them how it’s supposed to get done.
“All too often we teach kids to take deep breaths and to get their “minds off their worries” instead of teaching them how to defeat those thoughts,” explained Natasha Daniels, LCSW. “Distraction only go so far. Parents need to get to the root of the worry and pull out that weed.”
Let Them Explore Their Feelings
It’s usual for some parents to become over-accommodating, but it doesn’t help at all. It only enables toddlers’ anxiety throughout their behavioral, emotional, and mental development. When you don’t allow them to experience agitation, anger, and pain, they will have a difficult time differentiating it from other emotions. Don’t stop them from learning just because you are too afraid that they might get hurt. They need to understand that sooner or later, they will eventually experience the challenges in life.
Acknowledge Their Emotions
When you tell toddlers to get up there and stand on their own, you’re not doing the right thing. You might think that it’s helpful in teaching your child independence, but it’s not. It will only make them feel pushed and feel betrayed. In fact, when you ask toddlers the things that scare them, what gets them mad, and what makes them sad, they won’t be able to answer it in detail. They will have problems connecting their experiences with those questions. As a parent, you need to acknowledge their emotions and know their capabilities as well.
With sensitive and anxious toddlers, the emotions are uncontrollable. The sooner they can tell you that they feel scared, sad, and angry, the more significant changes you can figure out what to do. These tips are not exactly mind-blowing, but all of these are important in handling your baby properly. Do not risk your child’s overall health. Show them the importance of getting out from their comfort zone, and be there to assist them with their needs.
As a mom, I also have issues with my child for being so stubborn. He always makes himself free of any consequences because he knows I can entirely lose control over his unhappy reactions. I admit, I often fall in his trap because I have so much faith in him that he will change for the better. However, a kid will always be a kid. Somehow it makes me think, is he really under four years old because he seems to know what exactly he wants. He is an expert in manipulation because there is no way he can end up paying for his misbehaviors.
But as soon as I try and observe the ways of my kid, I begin to understand things. Positive parenting is not always about following a perfect disciplinary plan and action. Sometimes, as parents, all we need is a considerable amount of compassion and empathy for our little ones. With that mentality, I can say I now have a better version of my kid. So how did I do it? Here’s how.
Tips And Guidelines
- I was not able to notice that too many activities made my kid feel exhausted all the time. I was not aware that it is the number one reason for his stubbornness. After knowing that, I created a routine that helped in lifting his physical, emotional, and mental strength. I incorporated lots of sleep and regular meal time on his schedules. I made sure he exercise and play outside, as well. Soon after the changes, I noticed my kid’s positive behavior towards different tasks. He now has focus and motivation. He now listens to opinions and is open to suggestions. “It increases their sense of security because they know what’s coming next,” says Jean M. Thomas, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, in Washington, D.C. “The more secure toddlers feel, the more they can focus on things like learning, exploring, and playing.”
- Engaging in an argument with a kid is one of the most distressing things that can happen in a household. That is because children know they are kids; there is the persistence of getting what they want. In the case of my kid, I gave him what he wants. However, I made sure always to provide two choices. This type of strategy made my child think about his demands thoroughly. He became more focused on thinking about positive consequences instead of the negative ones. Choosing between two options made him realized to decide between two things only. That is to have something, and not to have anything at all. “It is a good idea for parents to change their behavior first and not wait until the child does what the parent wants.” Kyle D. Pruett M.D. wrote.
- After I realized that I was not able to provide quality time with my child, I began to change terms with my priorities. I engaged in a meaningful conversation with my kid and made sure there is a warm connection between us. I made sure that his concerns are well-answered and that his demands are well-acknowledge. I made sure that his good deeds are appreciated. “Kids tend to open up a little bit more when there’s not a direct eye contact,” says Megan A. Mooney, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and president elect at the Texas Psychological Association in Cedar Park, Texas. Soon after that, my kid began to love working with other people. He showed compassion toward other people’s incapability to do things. He became helpful and considerate of other’s needs.
Sometimes, we parents do not often see that our child’s stubbornness is not at all inborn. Usually, it is our fault that our kid turns out like that. So before we judge our child’s actions and behavior towards the things around him, let us evaluate how we are as moms.
Yearning to have an amicable and trusting connection with your doctor, financial adviser, or your lawyer as they guide you through crucial, challenging life situations is similar to the principle that applies to your kid’s college counselor.
College counselors are responsible for guiding you, and your high schooler through the rough college admission process, which is why not behaving badly and instead creating a positive and robust relationship with your child’s college counselor is essential.
By following these recommendations, complexities of forming a beneficial relationship can become much less gruesome.
Treat The Counselor As A Qualified Professional
College applications are brimming with arcane requirements and regulations that counselors exert time studying and imparting every detail to their students, which is why the counselor position exists.
Current information regarding financial assistance, application procedure, financial aid, and whatever’s in-between is also beneficial. Aside from carrying out school documents, the counselor is also partly responsible for drafting the institution’s overall assessment of every student. There are a lot of obligations that need to be fulfilled by the counselor even after being constantly reminded. Exhibiting admissive or domineering attitude towards your child’s counselor only depreciates your interactions.
“There is a tremendous lack of services in colleges and universities: On college campuses, the ratio of certified counselors to students overall is about 1:1000 – 2000 for small to moderate size schools, and 1:2000 – 3500 for large universities.” Eugene Beresin M.D., M.A. wrote.
College Counselors Are Friends, Not Foes
Both you and the counselor want what’s best for your child’s school welfare; both of you hope that the eventuality of searching for colleges would turn out successful. There will be moments when the counselor has to divulge painful news like the small likelihood of not being admitted to the college of choice or the reality that your child’s selection of courses may invalidate him or her from specific tiers of universities. Treat that honesty rendered by the counselor as information and not as a form of judgment, then proceed from there. “It’s tempting to be a helicopter parent, but this isn’t the healthiest approach.” Mike Brooks Ph.D. says He adds, “Parenting is a balancing act. There is not a playbook that can tell us exactly what to do on every step of the parenting journey. We want our kids to grow up to be successful and happy. ”
Get To Know Your Child’s Counselor
Make an appointment immediately by directly introducing yourself and casually talking to him or her. This type of meeting can be with or without your child’s presence; it’s ultimately a way to get to know each other without having any urgent dilemmas to deal with. On the other hand, if you or your child have preliminary concerns or special circumstances that must be dealt with, mentioning them during casual visits can be done. Having your initiative to kickstart the process and keep the relationship leveled will alleviate any tension and form a professional bond between you and the counselor. Don’t wait until a crisis is at hand to reach out and talk with the counselor.
Respect And Appreciate The Counselor’s Attention And Time
Schools have dedicated enough resources to have counselors that are mainly focused on diligently working to keep track of student caseloads which range up to hundreds. These counselors are mostly welcoming in answering inquiries via email and phone calls during working hours; therefore, make the most of this hour to get in touch with them. Marty Nemko Ph.D. explains its importance, “The counselor efficiently helps the client with the relevant issues. In the case of a career counselor or coach, it might include choosing a career, identifying strengths and weaknesses to mention in applying for jobs, negotiating compensation, or helping them succeed on the job.”
That said, you have to be aware that college applications are not life-threatening emergencies that require midnight calls especially at their homes. As much as possible, set aside your essential queries in the morning and thwart the urge to call your child’s counselors after work and especially during the weekends. Also, if you sent an email in the evening, don’t expect that you will receive an immediate response no matter how urgent your concerns are. Don’t worry. Counselors usually respond the following day.
Building a pleasant relationship with your teen’s college counselor requires sufficient amount of time, but once you have strengthened those ties, you’ll be grateful to have someone who is knowledgeable and supporting until success on both sides is met.
As a mom, we often tell ourselves that we know our kids better than others. That is because aside from carrying them for nine long months, we got to take care of them until they learn to walk and talk. We believe that we know better because these children share our same genes and all. But regardless of the entire viewpoint we have, our kids will have this intractable attitude. No matter how calm and open we are about their needs; these little ones will still have a false sense of power over us. Since not all of the children are the same, let us try and understand the different types of children tenacity.
It is a type of children’s attitude where listening is never an option. These kids get often focused on what they want, and they disregard parenting rules. Stubborn kids know the consequences of their actions. However, they care less of it since they know they can always get away with their misbehavior. They often make people around them, upset every time they are displeased and disappointed. It is as if they want the whole world to suffer every time they are in anguish. These kids are way too susceptible that sometimes even the slightest of things become a big deal for them. They often isolate themselves, and they never accept that they are wrong. They believe that punishment is inappropriate because they assume that everything they are doing is part of their development.
“There are times when we might decide that force is warranted. For instance, most parents have forced a resistant child into a car seat. So, I’m not saying that you won’t, at times, decide that you need to use force. The key is to keep those times to a minimum, because every time we use force, we’re creating pushback later. So if you’re doing this daily, it’s a signal that you need to rethink the situation,” wrote Laura Markham, PhD.
Children with a headstrong attitude believe in one thing – themselves. These little kids think they are always in charge of everything. They do not follow the rules because they feel they are the rules. They do not consider others feelings because these kids believe theirs are much more critical. They are often aggressive, and they take things by force too. These kids get easily angry and agitated, as well. In some unfortunate cases, headstrong children get regarded as disrespectful ones because of their dominant attitude towards adults and peers. These children want everybody to agree with them always and will show tantrums when people will not cooperate and go against them.
“Sometimes parents avoid giving strong-willed kids consequences because they don’t want to deal with the aftermath. But strong-willed kids need to develop an understanding of when their behavior crosses the line,” says Amy Morin, LCSW.
Kids that are close-minded causes parent’s to a power struggle. They have this lack of concern towards the things around them. These kids do not show empathy to their friends and siblings and only listens to their parents when they think they have to. These types of children are often smart in creating excuses in spite of whatever circumstances. They listen to their opinions only and do not accept and believe in constructive criticism. They are often selfish and irrational. They think they are smart enough to win an argument with friends, siblings, and even their parents.
Laurie Hollman, PhD, advises parents to “trust your child’s opinions, ideas, thoughts, choices, and want very much to hear them before you throw in your ideas and suggestions. Listening first before you offer any of your own opinions or solutions often leads to your child coming up with his or her own good judgments.”
Kids’ attitude is something that parents should watch out. If in case it is getting obvious, they should change their parenting way. Because in the end, those children’s misbehavior will become a reflection of failed parenting.
Kids are not all sweet and charming. We can all agree to that. There are times that they can be so mean, irrational, and very annoying. But what is making the most fuss in parenting is these little ones’ stubbornness. It is as if these kids have control of the world. They do not follow the rules, they ignore consequences, and they don’t listen. But do not worry. There are ways to help moms with dealing with these rascals.
Positive Parenting Tips
Learn To Stay Calm – Yes, one of the best things that moms can do is to stay calm. Since kids’ are not good at regulating their emotions, mothers should not allow their kids’ mood to control theirs. Parents should always have to be in charge of everything. That is especially when it comes to disciplining kids and administering rules. “A calm body is a calm mind. Not the other way around, as most people believe.” says Gayatri Devi, MD. Parents must understand that the quickest way to make stubborn children to listen is to give out a calm response. Taking a deep breath would be okay.
Remember What To Control – Parents, though they are in an authoritative position, cannot always control things. That is the reason why they sometimes feel upset if they cannot control the little kids. With that, parents must learn to identify the things they can control so that they do not have to put too much power struggle. Remember that moms do not have to argue or convince them to follow specific rules. Mothers have to impose the rules, and that is it.
Try To Empower What Kids Control – Children are in charge of their choices. “Treat kids as the expert in their lives,” Phyllis Fagell, LCPC says But it does not mean parents have to give in to them. They still have the last words as parents and control permission. Empowering what kids control means parents should acknowledge their kids’ authority. They have to make sure that regardless of the children’s desire, the little ones are still aware of the consequences of their actions. Therefore, when something is against the rules, these kids must widely accept punishment. The whole idea is about letting the kids understand their responsibilities too.
Consider Listening – Yes, instead of moms arguing with their kids, they must first try to listen. Stubborn kids get more engagement when there is an argument because it gives them a false sense of entitlement and power. With that, moms should not get drawn into it. Parents should not allow the little ones to control the adults. Because if they do, these stubborn children will have the confidence in doing things they want without considering anything. Not even rules, punishments, and as well as other people’s feelings will have a value to these kids.
“The most important way to talk so your child will listen is to listen to your child,” says New York City psychoanalyst Gail Saltz, MD, author of several books, including Getting Smart About Your Private Parts. “If they feel listened too, they are more likely to be able to listen and will feel more understood, have more trust, and be more interested in what you have to say.”
When children are in a bad mood, it becomes normal for moms to become angry too. But that should not suppose to happen. Instead, they must focus on empathy. It is by understanding the kids’ feelings. Dealing with stubborn children requires a different parenting dynamic. So instead of trying to build control over the kids, why not use themselves as a model for learning?
Keeping up with societal expectations of how to be perfect parents is unrealistic and exhausting. But are there really perfect parents? Well, there are perfectionist parents but perfect parents are debatable.
Why Perfect Parents Don’t Exist
“The vast majority of parents view this intensive parenting style as the best, as very preferable to other parenting styles,” Patrick Ishizuka, PhD, said. “Both men and women strongly support it, whether the parent in the vignette is the mother or father.”
Perfection is defined as being free from defects or flaws. Though the concept of perfection is subjective, one would conclude that perfection, when describing the human population, is not appropriate. Therefore, parenting is neither faultless nor impeccable.
Because parents are merely humans who have gained the responsibility of raising kids, they are not excused from experiencing problem behavior from their kids. Not complying with the set rules of the house, escaping chores, sibling rivalries, failing grades, unanswered homework, and spending a lot of time being unproductive are just some of the reasons why parents go berserk.
Guess what? This is just the start. Wait until these kids evolve into teenagers. That’s the time when the dilemma sets in.
From Perfect Parenting To Good Parenting
Since we’ve already established that perfect parenting is a bust, the next option would be considering how to be good parents.
1. Good Parents Accept Mistakes
Errors might be coming from the parents’ end or their children’s end; either way, what’s essential in the end is accepting the fundamental truth that mistakes are bound to be made no matter how careful or assured you are. How does acceptance occur?
• Parents need to realize that feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, confused, angry, worried, and guilty due to the behavior of your child, are part of the parenting process. Therefore, it is self-defeating and futile to strive for perfection.
• Parents need to recollect the times when they were kids, and they misbehaved and did terrible things. Once they do, remember how your parents handled your mistakes and how you reacted to it and how, at this very moment, the advice or punishments have made an impact on your overall well-being. “Much of today’s popular advice to parents ignores emotion,” says Dr. John Gottman.
2. Good Parents Do Not Compare
Statements starting with, “When I was your age…” can easily end a conversation between you and your kid. Living in the past and comparing something that your children did at present is like cutting the bridge of understanding. Or saying something like, “Look at our neighbor’s kid, she did amazing on her exams, why can’t you?” You must know why your kids are failing at a specific task or subject at school. There has to be a good reason behind it.
Comparisons are the downfall of a person’s innate attributes and characteristics. Comparing your kids not only brings them further stress and pressure but unhappiness brought about by unrealistic expectations. Nobody wants to be compared with other people because not everyone’s the same.
3. Good Parents Know How To Communicate
For children to become more comfortable in opening up and talking about specific topics that they find sensitive or confusing, parents should always keep the door for honest communication accessible. Parents, especially mothers, have pretty keen instincts as to whether their children are bothered or troubled about something. They should always make the first move on asking their children how they’ve been and if there’s anything they wanted to confide to them. “Being a sensitive parent and responding to your kids cuts across all areas of parenting,” says Arizona State University’s Dr. Keith Crnic.
Create A Flexible Framework
To live through proper parenting, fathers and mothers must create a resilient, adaptable framework that will take into consideration their expectations, temperaments, philosophies, and parenting methods. By doing so, you are a forminga structure that can commit not only to your spouse’s beliefs and style but also accommodate your children’s preferences, idiosyncrasy, and attributes.
Parents must find comfort in the idea that even though perfect parenting does not exist, a vast majority of children, no matter how problematic, turn out okay. Parenting might suck the life out of you, but it can also add joy and fulfillment to your years to come.
Perhaps all of us can agree that children are cute and sensitive. However, these little rascals will never stay that way. A lot of them can become a tremendous pain in the ass. Most of the times, they will cause even more trouble compared to none. They can make someone angry because they are annoying, and sometimes they are out of boundary. But regardless of that, we know that kids will always be kids. They can shrug things off and become okay again in no time. That is their unique quality. So as parents, what are the possible things we can do to keep our children in a behave manner? How can we make the children listen to us? Fortunately, there are better ways we can count on.
As parents, we have great talents in finding the things we wished our kids could stop doing. No, it is not bad parenting because we know what exactly is appropriate and not applicable in our house. We have to control the bad behavior of our children. That is before they can even create a connection to the outside world and become a menace. With that, we talk them out of their mistakes. Since we want them to understand that there are things that are not allowed to do, we must be specific in explaining everything clearly. As parents, we have to take away all the confusions that the kids might have. “It’s important to let her know that you empathize with how she’s feeling.” says Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., “Your child actually needs you the most when she’s at her worst.”
Sometimes kids can be very stubborn that a pleasant conversation is never a solution to their misbehaving attitude. There are instances that even if we already tried so hard to explain to them what should and shouldn’t have to happen, they will continue to annoy us anyways. With that, we have to end up punishing them. No, it is not the kind of punishment where there is too much harassment in the process. “Physical punishment elicits precisely the negative affects one does not want in parent-child relationships and in socializing children: distress, anger, fear, shame, and disgust.” Paul C Holinger M.D. explains. Instead, it will focus more on minor stuff that will allow the kids to suffer under inevitable consequences of their actions. Of course, that only goes to depend on the bearable emotional and mental strength of the children. Remember, it should get considered as a punishment, but not as abuse.
The Role Model
Children are the best imitators. Sometimes they act on things based on how they see it. With that, we have to be careful in showing them everything. “Values don’t come from a textbook or from discussions about abstract concepts.” says Elizabeth Berger, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist and author of Raising Children With Character (Jason Aronson Inc., 1999). She adds, “Rather, values are taught during the ordinary interactions of everyday life. If a child likes and respects you and your values, he will want to embrace them and make them his own.”
As you can see, some kids work in silence, and there are who do stuff regardless of the consequences. As parents, we have to make sure that the children are getting the right amount of learning from good behavioral examples. We must not allow them to question the existence of our bad behavior when we want them to do well on theirs.
Parenting is difficult; that’s why we always have to remember a thing. One parenting method does not guarantee to work with the other. That is because children have different attitudes and behavior.
Perhaps you already witnessed a kid that rolls around the ground and crying his heart out because he doesn’t want his parents to leave him at school. And sometimes, you think that is normal because a lot of kids tend to be like that. However, what you didn’t know is the emotional and mental struggle behind that particular behavior. The truth is, what is happening to these hapless little ones is called separation anxiety. It is a psychological condition that therapists aim to address in children who are experiencing it.
Separation Anxiety In Children
Separation anxiety can occur in adults too. But compared to children, it is more severe in them. The condition is inappropriate development of excessive anxiety or fear regarding the separation of kids from those people they feel attached. Usually, children with separation anxiety experience recurrent distress when getting an idea of separating from home or any form of the principal attachment figure. One example of a scenario is when a father, mother, or a close member of the family is taking a few days off the house due to vacation, work, or whatsoever. Kids become entirely upset when they know they are going to be away from someone they care about. There is a buildup of persistent and excessive worry about losing an attachment to that valued individual. In some cases, children get disturbed when that person is sick and injured. These kids become too emotionally distraught just by thinking that their loved one could end up being kidnapped, getting in an accident, and dead.
Deborah M. Consolini, MD of Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University pointed out that “Crying indicates the children have developed a sense of attachment to their parents or caregivers. Crying in this situation is a positive reaction, because children who are not attached to their parents or caregivers do not cry when they leave the room.”
According to Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D, and co-author, “children experience a continuation or reoccurrence of intense separation anxiety during their elementary (primary) school years or beyond. If separation anxiety is excessive enough to interfere with normal activities like school and friendships, and lasts for months rather than days, it may be a sign of a larger problem: separation anxiety disorder.”
The Effects In Children
“[C]hildren who have had chronic and intense fearful experiences often lose the capacity to differentiate between threat and safety. This impairs their ability to learn and interact with others, because they frequently perceive threat in familiar social circumstances, such as on the playground or in school. These responses inhibit their ability to learn and often lead to serious anxiety disorder,”says Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., et al. of PersistentFearAndAnxietyCan Affect Young Children’s LearningAnd Development WorkingPaper9by Harvard University.
Children with separation anxiety somehow appear same as everybody. That is the impression of why it is difficult for parents and other mental health professionals to identify the mental condition instantly. But one limiting factor of the mental illness is the kids’ behavior. Usually, kids are more reluctant to new things. There is often a refusal to go outside that even stepping out from the house becomes a big deal. Separation anxiety in children makes them fear the distance away from home because they believe it will cause them pain or any unfortunate accidents. These little ones look at their home as a fortress that once they move away from it, they become weak and vulnerable.
There is no room for social interaction on children with separation anxiety as well. That is because they usually do not want to play with other kids. There is this idea that getting too attached to someone will only cause emotional issues in the long run. With that, instead of trying to become friends with different people, these kids only surround themselves with one or two peers. Sometimes, even those two individuals get to be pushed away too. These kids are afraid to handle a much significant emotional burden caused by separation. That explains why they are sometimes clingy and unable to be sued by anybody else except their trusted parents, siblings, relatives, or friends. In some unfortunate cases, these children with separation anxiety often want to be alone. That is regardless of them being at home or in any settings.
In some events, there are severe cases where these kids experience repeated nightmares and panic attacks due to the idea of separation. It becomes a non-existent trauma where children often think about it all the time. With that, these kids end up having physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches.
The anxiety and fear in children usually last within four weeks. The whole thought of it causes children to feel a significant amount of distress. Sometimes, the result of the anguish makes it impossible for them to function in their lives. There are cases that even a medical professional or mental health expert cannot explain it well too. With that, children suffer silently with mental illness. And since they are kids who are sometimes unable to express their emotional and psychological situation, it becomes hard to treat them immediately.
The truth is, separation anxiety is entirely a survival practice that keeps children safe from the emotional impact. Some kids are aware that they can survive without help from someone they trust. However, not all children can integrate quickly and accept that they need to do things alone of their own. With that, they become completely overwhelmed by their developmental stage.
Separation anxiety does not necessarily have to focus on age. Instead, it is more on the developmental stage. It is where there is an expectation of the strength of the emotional and mental capability of an individual.
In today’s world, parents like us are somehow backing away from the modern, more liberal type of parenting and adapting the old, conventional style when it comes to discipline and house rules. Truly, it is difficult not to notice the messages conveyed on the television and social media – the children of today are just out of control. But a psychologist once asked me, “How are the kids of today so different from the way we were? And did we make them who they are now?”
With the newly structure curriculum where there are more school days, projects and homework during the weekends, and more activities for student improvement, don’t you think as a parent that they’re so caught up with education, and we have left them with nothing much for their freedom to grow up outside of school? By making sure that our kids learn academically, are we giving them to little space for individuality?
There is an uprising of anxiety and discomfort regarding the new system of rules and discipline. Many people think that this system is stopping the new generation from expressing who they are, and learning through experience right from wrong. If we expect them to become the world’s stronghold and tomorrow’s future, why aren’t we giving them the space to explore and grow?
Boundaries Must Be Set
Needless to say, parents are obliged to set boundaries for their kids, and it may not sound sensible, but yes, children do want these boundaries. They are okay with you telling them what to do and what not to do because they somehow like the feeling that there is control in the things they do. They like the sense of being safe in a controlled world where their parents are their fortress, and life is less complicated because of their protection. If there is no control, then it will be too much for these kids, and they were not born into this world unsafe. They have been cuddled and embraced and shielded from harm from the moment they came out.
Our children, in the beginning, have no idea what’s right from wrong – we teach them that. That is why we set some boundaries. But perhaps by letting them get away with some things, we are doing this as part of their training, when we are first polishing their values, defining their characters, and creating structures. According to Jennifer L. Hartstein, PsyD, “The more children learn about the consequences (positive or negative) of their actions, the more they understand the impact of their behaviors and the more secure they feel by having that understanding.”
Instilling discipline in children does not mean that parents are impeding them of their free will. “Calm, consistent discipline is as much an ingredient of having happy children as nurturing,” says family therapist Marilyn Wedge, PhD. Children should be entitled to their own opinion and should be allowed to express how they feel about things and issues in life, but of course, depending on their age. We can ask them for their choices on the simple things first, to help them practice the right kind of free will. For example, we can ask them what kind of drink they want, but we give them a choice of the drink – orange or apple juice. We can ask our teenager if she prefers to wear yellow or red shorts, but not let her choose the skimpy skirt when she’s going to the library. The freedom that we teach them is limited only because we want to teach them how to make choices.
Eventually, we can add consequences to these choices. If they make the incorrect choice, then there is a consequence. If they don’t finish their food, they don’t get to eat ice cream. They do have a choice, but the price to be paid will determine their behavior. Isn’t this what we all experience in the real world – responsibility, hard decisions, and consequences?
They Do Need More Freedom
According to Michael Thompson, PhD, author of Homesick and Happy ”While there are many things we can give our kids by spending time with them, the one thing we can’t hand them is independence.For kids to have full psychological ownership of their achievements, they have to be away from their parents. So, the task for us is to step back, open the door, and let a child go.”
It’s been more than three decades of blaming it on people’s rejection of the modern way of rearing children. It is because we give our children too much freedom that they become addicts, criminals, and early mothers. They’re rallying on implementing the conventional, authoritarian kind of parenting, specifically in the United States, perhaps because more and more people believe that we have become too liberal.
But the bottom line is that too much of everything is not at all right. And as much as we want to change the way we handle our children, we must let them grow up reasonably. Yes, we must pay more attention to our children – that’s the more traditional setting – but we must also add a touch of modern to that. We must always encourage them to think for themselves. No parent, school, or religion must force children to accept whatever it is that they do not want. We must raise them in a way that they know how to think, ask, and question.