This is the main function of parenting: to raise functional adults. This is done through understanding stages of developmental maturity, through appropriate connection between parent and child and child and the world, and through slowly letting go toward the child becoming an adult making their own decisions but having a family to support and encourage them.
It sounds brief in that way, and requires much more thought in real life than what I just wrote in that sentence. There are situations that come up a million times a day that can help your child move toward being an empowered adult. So how do you do it in real life?
First, know your DEVELOPMENTAL norms. Every child eventually weans. Every child eventually sleeps in their own bed ( usually by age 10, if not before, is when they stop cosleeping or wandering into your room in the night with a bad dream). If you know the developmental norms, then that helps you know what is NOT normal and when you might need help. It might also help you identify anxiety or depression and when to intervene.
Second, respect your child’s IDENTITY. This is not only extroversion or introversion, but temperament, and likes and dislikes. This doesn’t mean you don’t get to nudge a little at the appropriate points toward things that would be healthy, but it means you have a fundamental knowledge of who your child is. Nudging is different than dramatic pushing. Sometimes all of us, including adults, need a nudge from those who love us in order to better ourselves. It is okay to nudge towards health and balance and normal developmental maturity. And we respect their changes. Because they are children who are growing, they have every right to grow and change into something different. Do not peg your 15 year old into a spot because they acted a certain way when they were seven years old.
Third, provide ENCOURAGEMENT and CONNECTION. Supportive phrases include encouragement, which is different than praise. Encouragement allows room for growth and room for the child to decide when and where to be proud of him or herself. Connect with them in their love language.
Fourth, teach your child how to be EMPOWERED. Teach them how to listen to others, teach them how to manage their own intensity, teach them how to problem solve, teach them how to set boundaries. Do not rescue them from real-life consequences. These are skills you must have YOURSELF before you can teach them!
I would love to hear some of your real life situations – let’s help each other.
Blessings and love,
I love this post! And check in to read your blog regularly, even though I rarely leave comments. This is just such a great topic and so timely. I really do try to keep the big picture in mind when parenting my seven-year-old daughter. One thing we have been struggling with (I’m a single mom and we live with my parents) is disrespectful behavior and a refusal to apologize. For instance, Grandma will tell Grace to pick up something she’s left in the living room, and Grace will yell, “No! And you’re a big meanie and I don’t have to listen to you!” …Or something like that. Then she absolutely will not apologize, and will have a meltdown if asked to apologize or make amends. This goes for pretty much everything, whether it’s calling someone a name, breaking something, or any other “bad behavior.” She really doesn’t want to admit that she’s done something wrong, and will also say, “It wasn’t me. Sally did that,” implying her friend (who’s not there) was the one who committed the crime. Do you have any thoughts on helping a child learn how to apologize, and even that it’s okay to not have perfect behavior? Thank you so much for all your work!
Hi Sonja! Thank you for reading! At the age of 7, the things you described are pretty normal behavior. Apologizing means that they have to accept responsibility that they are wrong, and it can be insincere. I would not force an apology, but I would force to do something nice for the person she was disrespectful for. Sometimes giving it a little space to find the “I’m sorry” helps – so sometimes it is the physical action of fixing what went wrong – picking up the garment, wiping up what spilled, etc and then before bed can be a good time to revisit that day and what went great and what didn’t and making amends before bedtime. I would alert your parents you would like to try that instead of forcing an apology in the moment so they know as well. As far as the yelling and name calling, I would not tolerate that. I would simply say, you sound really frustrated because you are yelling and name calling! You may take a break in (do you have a chilling out place?) this chair – we don’t yell, we don’t name call. Do you want me to sit with you while you take a break and then we can try again? You have to be pretty chill. The blaming someone else is super normal for that age, so I don’t know as I would push that yet other than to say, “Gosh, Sally hasn’t been here today. Must have been the wind!” and smile like you are in on the joke. Many girls, only and first girls especially, have that perfectionist bent. I think you can work in stories about for example, the jars in China that have cracks and the cracks are filled with gold. The vase isn’t perfect, but it is more valuable and considered more beautiful because now it is unique. I would show her you making mistakes yourself and fixing the mistake in a no biggie kind of attitude. And, I would introduce her around 8 and a half to the concept of growth mindset more formally – you can find great handouts and such on Teacher Pay Teachers on that topic.
Thank you so much for the reply, Carrie. These are wonderful suggestions and comments and I will revisit this post!! Will definitely try the doing something nice/making amends approach…also revisiting at bedtime. Yes, we do use the “chilling out” space; thank you for the reminder; the “no tolerance” of name-calling feels right. I love the story about the cracks in the jars being filled with gold! Thank you again, and it’s great to hear that this behavior is pretty normal for her age. This blog is such an incredible resource and reading it makes me feel part of a community.