Hey guys! Thanks for tuning in to yet another episode of Gamifying Kindness! Today we’ll be discussing respect as we journey forward together in search of traits & habits needed to raise kids who care about others & take on the challenge of making learning so much fun that they don’t even realize they’re doing it. As always, if you’ve missed any articles these are all the links.⬇ Otherwise, let’s get to it.
Raising Kids Who Care: Teaching Respect Through Example
This one may be a bit controversial to some, but please, just hear me out first. Historically, people have taught children respect by telling them not to talk back, never to interrupt adults, & basically, just not to question authority. These techniques were provided by the same generations that brought us such parenting gems as having children pick out the stick they’ll be beaten with, using Brandy to treat pain from teething, & to use circumcision to treat infant insomnia. Yeah, that’s right. That was my reaction too, but no, you didn’t read that wrong. For more throwback parenting ideas that would be funny if they weren’t horrifying things that really happened to actual children or if you’d just like to induce a sudden & prolonged state of confusion that diminishes your faith in humanity, check out this list where I found that one & too many others to mention.
I trust you see my point. Since then, many things have changed & we’ve done our best as a society to change with them. While as adults we do have knowledge, experience, & wisdom that they don’t, they’re still people whose thoughts & feelings deserve consideration. I came across this idea in yet another Parents.com article & the way it was presented reminded me of something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately so it really resonated with me. More on that later. Just think about all the parenting ideas we thought we had right only to find out a decade later that it caused serious problems. Maybe this is another one that’s overdue for a change.
Before anyone gets the wrong idea, no one’s suggesting we give kids control overall, or even any, of the decisions. They’re still kids who need our guidance. But it’s often more important how we do it. In the article, it’s suggested that we don’t dismiss their ideas or feelings, even when we need to overrule them. One example given is being at the store ready to check out but your child is hypnotized by the ice cream selection. You may want to leave & have things to do, but Parents.com writer Catherine Newman suggests that instead of saying something dismissive like, “Seriously, the ice cream again?” you could validate their feelings by telling them you understand they want to keep looking. You may even compromise by asking if 2 minutes would be enough time to finish looking so you guys could get going or ask if taking a photo to look at later would work. But, you could also skip the compromise altogether, & just make it clear it’s time to go in a way that’s not belittling& shows compassion or empathy.
I constantly hear people saying that kids today have no respect. In the last few years, I’ve even caught myself doing it a few times. (Side Note: It wasn’t good for easing my fear that turning 30 will make me mentally older as I transition from carefree, fun-loving young adult to someone who always says “The damn music is too loud! Not that you can call that newfangled noise-making crap they play on the radio these days music anyway because they just don’t make songs like they used to anymore!”🤣 LOL. I know 30 isn’t old logically, but a tiny part of my inner child is yelling, “Wait! Does that mean I’ll need to wear glasses all the time & start leaving my phone in the freezer?” Because the eyes & memory are the first to go, you know. Lol.😂 What? Even inner children can be melodramatic. Lmao!)
But this article made me wonder if the reason every generation thinks kids don’t understand respect anymore like they did back in their day isn’t at least partially due to them not having been shown respect themselves growing up. I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again, teaching kids what to think isn’t the same as teaching them how to think. Think about it though. For generations, parents hit their kids as a form of discipline because, “My parents gave me a good whack when I was bad & I turned out fine.” Well… I guess if you ignore the fact that you think it’s okay to teach, punish, or discipline children with physical violence that threatens their sense of physical, mental, & emotional safety needed to learn, grow, & explore without fear, then yeah, you turned out great.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting all the blame for these bad methods on the parents, which does include my own, because, while we know all this now & it seems like an obvious intuitive use of common sense, we only see it that way because we have that evidence & the people around us also think it’s wrong. If society today still practiced & agreed with it then history shows that we too would likely feel that except, except for a few who were personally harmed by it to such an extent that there were long-lasting negative effects which caused them to swear never to hit their own kids. Although personally, I feel like there are always long-lasting negative effects, including thinking it’s okay to your kids because your parents hit you.
If we look back only a few generations, the parenting ideas would seem horribly abusive & ignorant, yet those are also some of the decades widely considered to be the most wholesome & centered around good family values. When our grandchildren & great-grandchildren look back on us, what do you hope they’ll say? I bet it isn’t, “Wow! They didn’t even respect children enough to consider their feelings or let them make basic, & ultimately irrelevant decisions for themselves like even just wearing mismatched socks?” (I don’t know how common the socks thing is now, but a lot of parents did, & still do, think kids should always dress the way they believe is best no matter how the child feels. Some even go so far as to dress their kids like tiny lawyers on picture day, which other parents feel defeats the purpose of the photos, to capture who they are at each age.)
So maybe it’s our turn to continue the tradition of looking at basic parenting ideas & expert advice only to realize that some of them are kind of awful. Again, to clarify nobody’s saying put kids in charge, only to disagree with compassion & respect. Some simple & powerful examples given were things like not scolding a child for spilling a drink & instead just offer them a sponge to clean it up. If you have to take them away from something fun, explain why you can’t stay and what the consequences would be if you ignore that responsibility to stay longer. Then acknowledge that they’re upset and that’s a normal response.
They give many examples of different levels of response such as different ways to handle a child wanting to stand in the rain (or jump in the puddles like me as a kid). They suggest you could get an umbrella for them so they can enjoy the rain in a healthier way & wait inside for them with a towel to dry them off when they’re done. You can also suggest that since they could get sick from staying outside, maybe a bath would be a better way to honor their wishes for water & celebrate the rain more safely. They make a point to say the alternate idea doesn’t matter so long as it’s respectful of them. So watching through the window or even a slightly distracting shift of focus like suggesting you go look up where rain comes from to enjoy it differently could work too.
So it isn’t really asking much, right? They also brilliantly advise parents on how to respond when their kids disrespect them. For example, if you forgot to pack a snack for the car ride like you usually do & rather than being grateful for all the times you have done extra things for them, they instead get annoyed. They suggest that patents calmly explain that when they act like the extra gestures of kindness are required, it makes them not want to do those little things to be nice anymore because they don’t appreciate it.
The idea they list that I think could be most controversial is the concept of “Fair Hearings“ where kids can offer their thoughts on issues that affect them. For example, if your nine-year-old wants a cell phone or halfway through the season they want to quit a sport they’ve been playing, they can present their reasons & explain why they think you should let them have what they want. Even if you still disagree, you can both give your reasons so you know each other’s perspective & everyone feels heard. Again, it’s not about giving up control, it’s about making them feel valued, heard, & respected.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article & that it helps you see things in a different way. It’s important to remember that it’s good to look at our beliefs, questioned our reasons, make sure the facts still hold up, & make improvements when possible. We all like to believe we’re right, but imagine the consequences of always assuming we’re right without re-evaluating occasionally, especially as information changes & new facts become available. If previous generations had refused to ever let anyone question their beliefs, we’d have a bunch of red-bottomed drunken infants with less than mint condition genitals running around all the time.
Okay, guys, that’s all for today but in reference to the controversial idea I mentioned earlier, if I can get it together in time, next week’s article might be a doozy, & probably a lengthy one at that.
Until next time…