Every parent has said one or more of the phrases on the attached graphic at least once. Chances are you say most of them quite regularly. We want our kids to behave so we are continually reminding them to settle down, use their inside voices, keep their hands to themselves and to think before they speak, and many others. Yet, do we as parents practice what we preach? If you are a parent that spanks, do you ever say to your child, “no hitting”, or “keep your hands to yourself”? If so, that is just a little (or a lot) hypocritical and sends mixed messages to the child. This causes confusion for the child and often leads to communication problems and distrust. I have seen with my own eyes, as well as heard many recounts of parents who get angry when a child hits someone else (usually another child) and immediately begins to spank them, all the while telling them (or screaming at them) that hitting is not allowed. Try as I might, I cannot follow the logic in this action. How do you think the child feels in this situation? What do you think he is thinking?
Growing up is a hard job and kids do the best they can to learn and grow into adults. When adults send mixed messages to them such as described in the first paragraph, it hinders their growth. Their ears are hearing “no hitting” but the actions say it is okay because mommy or daddy is hitting me so it must be the right thing to do. Spanking is not the only conflicting message that parents routinely send to their child. How often do you find yourself yelling at your child? And how often do you hear yourself saying “use your inside voice” when your child is yelling or screaming? How many times do you tell your child to “settle down” and then turn around and get visibly upset about a stressful situation?
Why do we expect our kids to behave better than we do? And then, when they don’t, we scold or punish them. Kids are people, with human emotions. Their emotions, thoughts and feelings are just as valid as any adult. Don’t misunderstand here, they are not just small adults. Their feelings should always be considered, but they have not matured to a level to be able to process those emotions with the same proficiency as an adult should be able to. Some adults never learn how to process their emotions because they weren’t taught how as children. Some go through years of therapy to learn how. And an awful lot just parent their child the same way they were parented.
When we stop holding our children up to a higher standard than we ourselves can achieve, we will have happier, healthier kids who learn how to behave and grow into maturity with tools to help them cope with life as an adult.
Always remember that your child is constantly learning. You are their example. Be a good one by practicing what you preach.