Standards go both ways

I often wonder why adults have one set of standards for themselves and another for the children.

I recently observed  a childcare worker yelling at a young fella because he was yelling at one of his playmates. It struck me as odd. If the young fella is not allowed to yell then why are you yelling at him? How did your yelling at him help him to learn how to do things differently?

A parent in one of my parenting groups years ago, said “I hit the children for hitting each other – it doesn’t make any sense”.

Dr Magda Gerber said “YOU are what you teach your children”.  No truer words have been spoken.

If your kids are yelling, swearing, getting angry, where do they get the yelling/swearing/angry from? If they can’t tolerate frustration, who is role modelling that for them? And who is teaching them the alternative – how to calm and center themselves?

Parents say to me that their kids don’t listen. I rather cheekily ask how much they listen to their children.

Parents expect their children to jump up and do whatever they are asking them to do as soon as they ask it. But when you are sitting on the lounge watching your favourite TV show, or looking at Facebook, how quickly do you respond to your children’s requests?

Parents expect their children to share. They rouse on the young one who won’t share his favourite truck. But if I asked to borrow your car how willingly would you hand over the keys? Adults aren’t that good at sharing so why should children be good at it, especially as they are egocentric and they really do think that the universe revolves around them.  Being egocentric is developmental, it’s something that their brain controls, they actually can’t help it. They are not being ‘selfish’ to be nasty.

If you have a house rule that food should only be eaten at the kitchen table, then are you following that rule too? The kids are looking at you, and pretty soon they learn what the word ‘hypocrite’ means. They will mutter under their breath that you don’t follow the ‘rules’ and then they will get into trouble for ‘backchatting’ or being rude or not respecting their parents.

When we make a mistake we pass it off as a mistake. When our child makes a mistake we say its “misbehaviour”, “naughty”, or “seeking attention”.

I’m not suggesting that children be given free reign. Your job as a parent is to set the rules for acceptable behaviour, to establish the limits and boundaries. It is absolutely OK for you to set limits and boundaries. Some of the most extreme child behaviour I have ever seen has come from parents who are too scared to limit their child’s behaviour.

It’s also your job to be a good role model. It’s not simply enough any more to say “do as I say, not as I do”. If you can’t role model acceptable behaviour then how are your children going to learn it? Do you have one set of standards for yourself and one for your children? Are you expecting too much of your children?  Kids are smart these days and having unrealistic expectations causes resentment in your children and can lead to negative behaviour and moods.


Narelle Smith

a few more mistakes


Categories: Parenting Skills


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