Let's Not Break our Children's Spirit

Parents, we must stop speaking to our children behind clinched teeth, with angry eyes and cuttingly sharp voices.  

I have seen time and time again and it seems more often these days, parents speaking and handling their children with such contempt and hostility and impatience that it breaks my heart in two.  When we continue to interact and speak with our children without love, patience and sincerity, we are contributing to them growing up as angry, unhappy children who will bear the scares of emotional damage.

We may not think of ourselves as child abusers, but I assure you, if we are continuing to break our children’s spirit, we are indeed child abusers.  We have only a small amount of time, where we have the opportunity to be our children’s heroes.  When they are young, they are so impressionable and want so desperately to please us and to be loved and cherished as we all do.  

Children will react and exemplify the behavior they learn from their parents and care givers, every single time.

I worked in a preschool during college and while there I learned an invaluable lesson.  I had some children in my class who were aggressive, who were often angry and who struggled to have healthy relationships with other children.  In contrast, I had many children who were kind, gentle, happy and content with most situations.  As I met and got to know the parents of all the children, it soon became evident where the children learned their behaviors (please know that I am not speaking about children who suffer with real behavior issues, cognitive disabilities, social disabilities and the like).  What I witnessed was that the parents who were most often aggressively pulling on their children, impatiently removing or putting on coats, threatening to discipline once home, etc. were the ones who had the most aggressive children.

Then I noticed the parents who came in smiling, hugging, being gentle with their children both with their words and tone as well as physically were the parents with the most gentle children.  The softer the parents spoke and behaved, the more kind were the children.  

You may argue against this idea.  You may want to discuss all the variables that can lead to children’s behavior and personality and I know you would have many valuable points and truths.  I also know there are exceptions.  However, regardless of all of that, if we want gentle, kind children, they MUST see it and feel it from us. 

Please, let’s speak with kindness, handle with gentleness, and be much more patient with these beautiful souls entrusted to us. 

Have a great month,

Monica Irvine


Janie said...

It is very easy to be judge others. Children come with their own personalities, and you can't just make them be like you. The same loving parents can have a happy pleasant child, and an angry, sullen child. I like your products and I usually like your blog, but this post seems judgmental and uninformed.

Unknown said...

I agree with Janie. As a teacher who has worked with parents and children for my entire career, I think this may be a chicken or egg question. Maybe those relaxed, pleasant parents are that way because of the innate dispositions of their children to be content and compliant, which obviously makes parenting far less stressful. A close friend of mine who is one of the most soft-spoken and kind hearted women I know was almost in tears when she read this post because she has struggled with an angry and rebellious daughter for years. My friend says she saw that anger and frustration in her daughter from the first weeks of her daughter's life. The point IS well taken, children do model the behaviors of the adults around them, but I fear the parents who will take this post to heart are the ones like my friend who are already doubting themselves and may not really be doing anything wrong. The truly harsh and critical parents will unlikely not recognize themselves or rationalize their behaviors as justified. Changing a personality is never as easy as criticizing it--adult or child.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Monica is saying that there aren't exceptions to the rule - that there aren't some children who have loving, caring parents but still have hateful dispositions themselves. The point she is trying to make, I believe, is that, generally speaking, parents who treat their children with anger, disrespect, and contempt, will teach their children that manner of relating to other. Again, generally speaking. Some children of abusive parents are not that way themselves, for whatever reason. These, however, are exceptions and not the rule.

Lenora said...

We have a son with autism - a child we waited over 10 years to have and after years of failed fertility treatments and miscarriage, he was conceived naturally at 41 years of age. We love him dearly and do our best to be good parents to him. He's a sweet boy, but definitely has behavior issues and would be one of the exceptions to this blog post.

I'm not offended by this post, though I understand where some might be. I think the point of the post and the bottom line we all need to take away from this is that we need to be kind to our children. Period. For some, it's much harder. I TOTALLY get this, as we're often tested to our limits.

Regardless of a child's disposition, if we model kindness, there's hope that our child(ren) will learn kindness. We certainly can't teach a child to be kind if we model the opposite.

Ericka Autiegirl said...

i too have an aspiekid. :( and im an aspiegirl on top of it! i end up very impatient, and the perfectionism...

i look at it this way: God's grace is sufficient for me, even me. Even in my broken, sometimes critical, angry days and moments.
i am trying to change.
every time i choose patience instead of anger, thats change. just like that little girl in the news years video was saying. every time you choose better, thats change. its not always cold turkey. sometimes its a million little moments where you make a harder, but better, choice. we cant do it on our own.

i think there are special circumstances, like autism, where things are different, or harder. but that doesnt mean we let ourselves off the hook. our autistic kids' bad behavior is not an excuse for being angry all the time, or punishing all the time. i know its no excuse for me. its a poor one at best. but yes, we are tired, stretched thin, overwhelmed. many of us might have undiagnosed aspergers ourselves (have you thought of that? you should ;) )
we are working with a bucket that has holes in it.

but just try, one time per day, to choose to not get angry over something that you would normally get angry about. just try, once a day, to get down on your child's level and just sit there listening to their meltdown and sympathize. just once a day. :) we are all in this parenting thing together, and its SUPER HARD no matter what.