Telling a child to ‘grow up’ or not
Great wee post about a 3 year old girl who wants to be a 2 year old. Because Birthing Better families taught me so much, I can pull from my long 45 year past to keep passing on many of the wonderful skills. Without a doubt our Trust, Common Knowledge Trust, focuses on the specific skills to:
- Prepare every pregnant body to give birth
- Learn, practice and use birth and birth-coaching skills in every type of birth.
However, pregnancy and birth leads to a newborn. Newborns grow up. All of us get stuck in those ‘phases’ or find ourselves having a ‘teaching moment’ that can last for months!
Read this article about a woman whose little girl wants to go back to be 2 years old now that she’s 3. She has some great tips. Birthing Better families want to add to this conversation.
Kids growing up
We all know that we gladly (not always easily) accept changing dirty diapers until … When that ‘until’ Time comes is a decision that each of us determines. We can take any topic connected to growing children and find ourselves faced with … ‘Should I still be doing this?’ or ‘Should my kid still be doing this?’
We know that a behaviour we accept at 6 months is not what we expect a 3, 10 or 18 year old to do. So how can we help each child grow up?
Growing up skill Number 1
Dr. Phil rephrased parenting with something like this: ‘We did not raise children, we raise adults who happen to be children now’. That’s really profound. This means one of our roles is to make certain our children leave behind behaviours suited to a younger age but not suited for the child’s age now. Permitting our children keep childish behaviours doesn’t help.
It’s hard sometimes to figure out when a kid needs to change into more grown up behaviours and leave behind the younger behaviours. Thinking about this is skill number 1. Being aware is a skill in itself.
Growing up skill Number 2
Once we are aware that a child has to change their behaviour you can add skill number 2. When you look at the behaviour ask these questions:
- Is the behaviour a ‘yes’ to you?
- Is the behaviour a ‘no’ to you?
If you answer ‘yes’ then let your kid do the behaviour. This is your child, your Life and your choice.
If you answer ‘no’ then stop the behaviour. We all know that children change best when we clearly know that X behaviour is a ‘no’. We get clear and stop the behaviour. We also know that it takes about 3 days for a child to change. That’s pretty fast.
However, most of us get stuck in the AMBIVALENT. In other words, we see a behaviour and say to ourselves: ‘Do I want my child to be doing this?’ and find yourself not knowing if you’re ok (many times a long habit of letting that behaviour continue) or not (wanting change but it’s just too difficult to make the effort to stop it).
If you feel ambivalent that’s OK. Let’s say this again. It’s normal, natural and common. Do NOT stress that you feel ambivalent because if you respect this place then you can do this.
- Stay in ambivalence,
- Watch the behaviour
- Ask yourself … ‘Is this behaviour a ‘yes’? If it is then let it continue and go about your business.
- Ask yourself … ‘Is this behaviour a ‘no’? If it is then stop it right now with clarity.
In other words DO NOT BE AFRAID OF AMBIVALENCE!
Growing up skill Number 3
And here’s the next skill. When our child is doing something that needs to change because your child is getting older and X behaviour just has to stop, then you are faced with A Teaching Moment.
A Teaching Moment can last for months! No kidding. Some behaviours will stop pretty easily particularly if you are clear with your ‘no’. Other behaviours just take some Time to change even when we are clear that we want it to stop.
Growing up skill Number 4
A Teaching Moment means you get to think about what behaviour would be acceptable. In other words saying ‘no’ does not tell your child what behaviour is acceptable.
If you don’t want your child to do X behaviour and you clearly say ‘no’ also show or tell your child what behaviour would be a ‘yes’.
Growing up skill Number 5
Showing your child the ‘yes’ behaviour while saying ‘no’ to the behaviour you want to change has to be understood in a Universal Concept.
We are all One Humanity no matter where we live, the language, religion or culture. This means no child … NO CHILD … innately knows how to grow up. YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER!
In other words, we cannot expect our children to automatically know when to change a behaviour or how to make a change. You are your child’s primary teacher.
Knowing that no child has an innate knowledge of what you really want permits you to relax and figure out the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ that SUITS YOUR FAMILY!
Growing up skill Number 6
Last skill. You, your partner, other siblings, grandparents, friends and other relatives are all individual people. It is OK to teach your child that different individuals will have slightly or large ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
You must teach your child (within limits) to accept these differences as long as the other person works within your larger framework of acceptable social behaviours. You never should or have to have everyone in contact with your child doing it your way.
‘Being consistent’ is NOT about everyone doing the same thing. Being consistent means that if the behaviour is a ‘yes’ then it stays a ‘yes’ until that needs to change. Then it becomes a ‘no’ and it’s ok to say ‘This was a ‘yes’ and now it’s a ‘no’. That is your consistency. It’s not about doing the same thing again and again just because.
Using these growing up skills can help you relax more. Just as learning, practicing and using Birthing Better skills does not have to be ‘perfect’, your parenting skills do not have to be ‘perfect’.
Knowing the difference between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and honoring your ambivalence until you decide is like a breath of fresh air.