Respecting Your Child's Boundaries
How do we teach our children respect? By showing respect.
How do we teach our children boundaries? By having boundaries.
How do we teach our children empathy? By practising empathy.
How do we teach our children anything? By being an example.
When we mask a demand with a request it’s confusing. When we do that to children especially, it shows them they don’t have a choice when they have a right to one. “Will you do this for me please?” we say. I know it seems nicer to ask, but is it actually? – Often times our children will say yes when we ask for help, because they love to be helpful, especially the little ones, but one day they won’t, and it’s common that adults don’t like that response, so then they get mad, the child gets punished and the child learns saying no isn’t safe. It’s no wonder when we become adults so many of us find it difficult to say no, because saying no meant a negative consequence. I’ve watched children get told off multiple times for saying no when they were asked to do something. It breaks my heart. I mean is it really that difficult to make the demand in the first place, or actually give the child the option to say no? Would we find it disrespectful if another adult turned down our request? I doubt it. So why do we treat children this way? Why don’t children get the same respect? If we don’t want to do something we’ve been asked to do, we are allowed to say no, but for some insane reason this doesn’t seem to apply to children. It’s total madness. If you are reading this thinking, ‘this is me’, I get it. I suspect this same thing happened to you as a child, it sure happened to me, and for a long time I did it too, but then I realized one day how crazy it was to just expect our every request to be met. Children aren’t machines, they are humans and when we present them with a choice, of course they are going to respond that way.
Next time you are about to make a request of your child, before you speak, I invite you to ask yourself: is this something they must do or is it something I would just like them to do? If it’s the first, don’t ask; demand. If it’s the second, be ready for the answer to be no and if it is, accept it. Children need adults to be direct, they need to be shown they deserve respect just the same as anyone else, and children need to be taught that it is OK to say no, because it is!