I've been thinking a lot about this lately. And I've come to the realization that conventional wisdom isn't always so wise. Especially when it comes to some conventional thoughts on parenting.
In the beginning, I listened to all the mainstream strategies and theories. Yep, I read the books. I even nodded my head in silent agreement.
Kids need boundaries. They need consequences. And if they act out? They must be either manipulating or somehow getting a payoff for the bad behavior. Why, with a little consistency and clear limits, all would be well. It was all so very clear.
All I can say is "Yeah, right."
Now I know. It ain't that simple. The majority of the behavior I see has nothing to do with behavior at all. Physical issues, sensory issues, allergy issues, chemistry issues, cognitive issues -- these are all underlying causes that manifest with "bad behavior."
I write this post not for the seasoned parents out there. You already know all this -- and how.
Tonight I write for the newbies. The ones who still listen to the voices. You know the ones. They tell you you must be a bad parent. You're doing something terribly wrong. They give you all sorts of seemingly good advice. Why else would your child continue to act this way?
But more importantly, I write this for those who are unfamiliar with the struggle. And for you I have a plea.
Please, please do not judge. Do not whisper when you see a child melting down in the store. Hold back the looks, the sidewards glances.
Know that even more damaging than the looks are the words.
"All he needs is some good, old fashioned discipline."
"You can't let her get away with that. How will she ever learn
"Some parents have no control over their kids."
"If that was my
Don't think we're paying attention? Think again. We see you. We hear you. We're just trying to ignore you.
And now, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. You're clueless. I mean this in the kindest way, really I do. Its just that you have no idea what you're talking about. You don't know how much we do for our kids. How vigilant we have to be. And most of all -- you have no idea the challenges these "misbehaving" kids have to face, every single day.
A long time ago, I read Ross Greene's book, The Explosive Child. While I don't follow all his strategies, I whole-heartedly agree with the premise.
Kids want to be good. They want to please. When they can't, they don't need our condemnation, but our guidance instead. So next time you see some kid acting out next to you in the grocery line, please don't judge.
Wouldn't it be so much better to lend the parent a helping hand instead? And if that's not possible, how about just a nice, warm knowing smile?