Let me start off by saying that the “we” in question, is society as a whole. Are we as a society too strict on our kids?
It is of my hotmess opinion that we are. I feel there are too many rules, with too high of expectations for our kids.
Now before you go assuming, let me clear the air by saying I am not a parent who lets her kids run wild (although wild, they are). I have rules and guidelines that are age appropriate, but I am parent with the understanding that my kids are just that, kids.
They are supposed to run around, make noise, and act like fools. That is there job. They are supposed to explore and make mistakes, that’s how they learn.
They are NOT supposed to sit still and be quiet, or stand in a grocery line perfectly still, or even use proper manners all of the time. I’ll be honest, I do not expect my kids to say “yes ma’am” whenever I ask them a question or tell them to do something. They don’t get a slap on the wrist if they are to excited to eat their ice cream that they forget to say thank you. They get a friendly reminder on how it is important to be thankful for the things we get.
I know too many people who are expecting their kids to be seen and not heard. To be “proper” young children, to be clean and neat, and to not make messes.
Let me tell you something though, these expectations that society places on us to impose on our kids, are completely bogus. We cannot expect these things from a person who is developmentally supposed to be immature.
Yes, I said it, kids are supposed to be immature. They aren’t supposed to have it together. We are the adults and half the time we don’t even have it together. We make messes, we are not always clean, we certainly are not always polite.
How can we have such high expectations for our underdeveloped children, when our “mature” minds are still lacking in many of these areas?
Better yet, why do we want our kids to skip over there kid years and jump right into adulthood?
I sure as hell want my kids to stay kids for as long as they possibly can. The amount of time we spend as children, is miniscule compared to the rest of our lives when we are adults. So, why would we expect our babies to grow up any sooner than they have to?
Now I’m sure this is sounding like some hippy parenting advice to many of you, let me assure yo that is not the intention. The purpose is to help some of you realize that kids are supposed to be kids.
Think about it. How many times a day to you tell your children “NO”?
Many of us tell our children “No” for mundane reasons that have nothing to do with them, and everything to do with us.
Reasons we say “No”
- We say no to slime because it’s a mess.
- We say no to going outside because its muddy/too cold/too hot etc.
- We say no running around because it’s too loud.
- We say no to things we don’t want to clean up or make.
- We say no to things because we want it quiet.
Basically, we have just told them that them being a child is a nuisance to us, and we would much rather they be miniature adults and find something that is quiet and non-messy to do. By saying “no” and having these strict rules in place, we’ve taken away their creativity, their imagination, and their exploration. All crucial ways that children develop and learn.
If that isn’t clear enough, then take a look at our expectations for our children.
Typical expectations we have for our kids
- We expect them to remain still/calm when out in public or even at home.
- We expect them to listen and understand us the first time we tell/ask them to do something.
- We expect their manners to be impeccable.
- We expect them to do things right the first time.
- We expect them to control their emotions and not cause a scene.
- We expect them to not have an opinion on matters, and to simply sit quietly.
I could go on, but I think you got the picture. Now look at those expectations and tell me, do you do ALL of these ALL of the time? Are you calm and still when you are in a traffic jam or a long line at Wal-Mart? Are you constantly using your manners for every occasion? Are you constantly listening to what others are saying the first time they tell you? Are you able to control your emotions and never have an outburst?
Chances are you aren’t able to do these things all of the time. Then why are we expecting our children, who are developmentally immature, to master all of these expectations, all of the time?
Isn’t that the same as setting them up for failure?
That is exactly what it is. Our high expectations and our strict rules that we have in place are setting our kids up for failure.
We are taking away their opportunity to make mistakes. Mistakes are a crucial part of life; it’s how we all learn and grow as individuals.
I’m not saying we should give our kids a free-for-all, with no rules and no expectations. I’m saying we need to give them a chance. We need to set rules or guidelines, as I like to call them, that are achievable. We need to give them the tools they need to help them when faced with an unpleasant situation.
Simply saying no, or stop that, or go to your room, is not good enough. That’s not teaching them anything.
Let them run around, make mistakes, make messes and be loud. Tell them yes to the things you usually said no to out of inconvenience to yourself.
Mostly, let them be kids! That’s what they are. Let them be the beautiful mess that they are and watch how they learn and grow!