Reality Check For Parents

Source: ParentMagic Newsletter

A basic principle of good discipline requires that parents, teachers and other caretakers have realistic expectations of what children are capable of doing. It is obviously going to be crippling to self‐esteem if the child is not ready to do all the things the parents expect. You don’t try to toilet train a twelve‐month‐old, expect a four‐year‐old to know his multiplication tables, hope that your seven‐year‐old son and his four‐year‐old sister will stop fighting for good, or punish your 3‐year‐old daughter because she can’t clean up her room.

Developmentally inappropriate expectations like these are frequent problems. Parents also need to be aware, however, of some other common, unrealistic expectations that can frequently cause trouble. Here are a few:

True or False?

Kids are naturally cooperative and unselfish.
The younger they are, the more selfish children are. The cute little peanuts are primarily out for themselves, and they don’t like it when you cross them. When they get what they want they are fun, affectionate and delightful. When they don’t get what they want, crying, screaming, whining and tantrums can be the order of the day. Don’t hold it against them—that’s just the way little kids are.

Kids are basically rational.
Kids in the beginning are more emotional and less rational. They are not little adults. Their ability to reason develops slowly, though aggressively. Often when they’re little (and often when they’re teens, too), even five rational explanations won’t get the job done in a frustrating situation.

I should only have to tell them once.
Discipline means training, and training means repetition. What they’re learning has an intellectual aspect to it, but it also involves increasing the emotional skill of tolerating frustration. Kids get the message when you’ve taught them over and over.
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