Nowadays, even young children talk back, roll their eyes, are sassy and snarky, and demand to know why before doing what parents want. These kids act as if they can set all the standards, know everything and are entitled to express their thoughts and feelings in any way they want about anything. Many parents think this is their toughest disciplinary problem. Many parents want to know why this behavior has trickled down from teenagers through tweens to children. Is this behavior the result of the bad influence of the media – television, movies, internet – or their peers? If so, these parents think, how can we control what children are exposed to?
These parents are looking for their solution in the wrong place. These parents want to change the whole world so that the world sets the behavioral standards they want for their children. These parents are looking outside themselves for the answer to what they see as a problem, when the answer lies within them.
Some hidden assumptions of the parents I’ve seen are:
- Repression is bad; any expression of self is good. Thwarting children’s desires is bad. Children know what’s best for themselves; let them control their lives.
- Kids will learn to be polite, civilized and sensitive on their own if we give them enough freedom and love.
- We can’t logically justify any limitations or boundaries or particular code of manners as the right way, so we shouldn’t force our arbitrary values on our children. It’s a new world.
- Saying “no” to kids will damage their fragile psyches. If you make kids unhappy, their lives will be ruined. In fact, one bad response can destroy their whole lives.
- The most important thing is for our children to like us.
- By ourselves, we can’t resist the bad influences the kids encounter.
- Not allow children to think they know best and know everything when they don’t.
- Not allow children to express their most selfish, narcissistic, mean, nasty selves in any way they want.
- Begin at home to set the standards for our children.
- Stop begging the kids to be nice. Stop appeasing them. Take your own power.
- Stop their negativity, harassment, bullying, manipulation, abuse and temper tantrums.
The sooner we start, the easier it will be. However, even if they’re a year from leaving home, start this minute. Don’t let them think that the best way to get things from people they need (us) is to be nasty to them.