Accepting Children for Who They Are
This post is part of the 30 Days Towards Connected Parenting Series.
As I’ve said before, parenting these days seems to be focused a lot on control instead of connection. Instead of working on and nourishing the relationships with their children, people are focused more on strategies and tips that will help them get their child to act how they want. Parents aim to shape their children into ‘good’ human beings. At first it seems like a reasonable goal. Isn’t it our job to teach our children?
But, what if we looked at things from our children’s point of view? How would it feel to be in a relationship with someone who was always trying to change you? What if we just accepted our children for who they are? Children are all unique and brilliant in their own ways. Let’s stop trying to make them all the same. Some are loud and full of energy, let’s celebrate that instead of trying to dampen their spirits. Some are quiet and reserved, let’s respect that and allow them the time and space they need.
Let’s reassess how we view our children. Instead of seeing certain traits as negative, lets embrace them as strengths! Your child isn’t ‘bossy’, she’s a confident leader. Your child isn’t loud, he’s passionate. Your child isn’t shy, she’s thoughtful. Your child isn’t too sensitive, he’s empathetic and nurturing. What a gift for a child to feel like they are perfect as they are. To feel that they don’t need to ‘perform’ or be constantly trying to do better. How empowering not to be boxed in by labels, be compared to others, or have to live up to someone else’s standards.
Our parenting should also reflect our acceptance of our children. Constantly focusing on correction does not lead to children who feel accepted. Punishment, shaming, arbitrary rules, yelling, bribery, and rewards get in the way of genuine connection. Now this doesn’t mean being a permissive parent! It is our job to keep our children safe, and to guide them to being respectful of others too. But we can do this without any ‘behavioural techniques’. Instead of focusing on doing something to our children, we try to work with them. Just as you would with a partner or friend. You would respect that they are an individual and not attempt to change them. Instead you would work together to come to solutions that you are both happy with. The same can apply to children.
When you feel the need to correct your child, stop and focus on connecting first! Get down on their level, comfort them if needed, validate their feelings, and problem solve together. Guide them to make good decisions in a non-punitive way, and support them when things don’t go to plan. Love them unconditionally so they know that they are valued and accepted even when they make mistakes.
Find moments to connect instead of correct today. Show your children they are supported and accepted for who they are.
I love and agree with this so much. Sadly, parenting this way has also led to the hedging out of several closely related family members who meddled and think this parenting style is absolutely wrong and constantly criticized me as being permissive. I believe in working WITH the child. And when I’ve worked through things with my son, we were always able to get to the bottom of the behavior and improve and change the negative stuff over time while still accepting him as he is. I think my critics are worried more about what people think and try to control and honestly emotionally harm their children because of it instead of accepting them, working with them, and putting their hearts first.
D.L., what a sad situation. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that kind of criticism. Good for you for sticking for your guns and being a compassionate, empathetic parent. I know I am encouraged by your story to slow down, look my children in the eyes, and work with them through their difficult times.
Sara, this is a lovely post. Two things: I love the reminder to reframe alleged personality flaws as strengths, because they are. My sweet, shy four year old is such a joy. I adore his shyness, and his energy, which he also has in bounds. Secondly, I love the tip to stop myself from coRRecting them and instead redirect myself towards coNNecting with them. I think that is clever enough for me to remember it in the moment. 🙂
Thank you Ammie!!
🙁 D.L. That it’s so unfortunate. How can people be so offended by someone living life the way they think is right? It’s so bizarre. xx
I definitely think we could all work on this, and trying to understand truly who are children are!
I wrote a blog post today, about my experience with accepting my daughter for who she is:
Thank you for sharing 🙂
This is so important. I believe that it is crucial that parents and the general public misread this for either “sugar-coating” inappropriate behavior, being “politically correct”, or a warped version of enhancing “self-esteem”. As a long-time Early Educator, parent, grandparent, college Adjunct, Consultant, etc., I believe that the more we understand a child’s temperament as parents and teachers, (see the links at http://kera-kids.org/), the more likely we are to see our child for who s/he is and take responsibility to nurture our “acceptance” and our children.
What an article!!! We are so busy with our lives that we often forget what is important. At times we forget that our children are just children and we expect too much from them. Lot of times they do what we want them to because they do not want to let us down.This can grows into rejection.One of my children is gifted and the other one is not. I find myself unfairly comparing them at times. I am aware of that, but it doesn’t change how unfair it is to them. Thanks for the post
I hope you have come to see that both of your children are gifted.