- I will not force S to “say thank you!” Instead, I will lead by example and always say please and thank you to her. I would rather she learn how to be polite from having me ask her nicely to do things, and thanking her for helping me, than from me (or anyone else) standing over her demanding that she repeat what she’s told to say.
- I will not label her as a “good girl” or “naughty girl.” Instead, I will say “thank you for doing as I asked” or “please don’t do that.” I get really cross when I hear people tell their children they’re good or bad. I believe that all they will learn from that is that they either have to live up to being “good” all the time, or that they are fundamentally bad and can do no right. I would rather encourage S to behave well by leading by example, and encouraging her to do the right thing.
- I will not shout “NO!” in a stern voice. Instead I will say things like “uh-uh, that’s not for S.” and “not that one, play with this one.” I don’t think anything is to be achieved by telling a child “no!” all the time and would rather save that for the times when she is playing with electrical switches or about to fall down the stairs than for times when she’s dribbling on something I’ve left lying around or snotting on my trouser leg.
- I will tell her how generally awesome she is and that I am proud of her and I love her, rather than saying she is beautiful or quiet or “good” or something similar. I don’t want her to grow up thinking looks or staying quiet are the most important things and the only way to gain attention or affection. I hate it when we’re out and people say “ooh isn’t she good!” because she’s quiet; she’s just quiet, and while I’m thankful for the lack of screaming, I don’t want her to think she will only gain approval by keeping her mouth shut. Similarly, whilst she is absolutely stunningly gorgeous (obviously, she takes after her mother), I don’t want her to attach too much worth to looks; either her own or those of others. I want her confidence and self worth to come from somewhere a bit deeper than how cute her face is or how big her eyes are. Similarly, I don’t want her to be told “ooh you’re so clever!” all through her childhood, and feel that she has to somehow live up to that, get A grades and wow people with her intelligence. I want her self-worth to come from the fact she is perfect just as she is, whether she gets an A or an E; whether she is the prettiest girl in school or has spots all through secondary school; whether she is fat or thin; whether her hair is long or short; whether she is good at this or that or something else entirely. I want her to know I love her and am proud of her both because of and regardless of any other aspect of her intelligence, looks or personality.
- I will never, ever say “because I said so!” Instead I will answer S’s questions as honestly as I can – we have to do this because of this, we have to go here because of this, you can’t have this because of this. I want S to grow up believing that her thoughts and opinions are valid and important, and I think the best way to have that happen is to treat her like they are. I would rather she question my every decision, than blindly accept what I or anyone else say as gospel without thinking for herself.
As parents, wondering how to help our children develop is a natural part of parenting. We wonder how to help them eat solids, crawl, walk and every other milestone that’s reached within the first year. Read more…