What does a child deserve?
What does a child deserve?
Lots of people would say that the most important thing children deserve is love. In a perfect world, every little being is born into a loving, safe environment.
I would challenge you that every child deserves to receive the consequence for their behavior. I can hear you screaming at me right now. “You think discipline is more important than love, you’re just mean and maybe crazy. Kids need love more."
Letting your child receive the consequence for their behavior may be the most loving thing you can do for the long-term mental health and success of the ADULT you are raising. When a child enters your care, you don't need to raise it to be a child. Those little people in your household must be raised to be happy and successful adults. To grow a happy, successful, compassionate human being, the child must understand how the world works.
As parents, our instinct is to protect our children. You see a toddler about to toddle over, and you run to catch him so that he lands without any discomfort. Our ten-year-old loses her phone. After yelling at her to be more careful, we buy her another. On Sunday night, you find out that your 12-year-old has an essay due on Monday morning. You yell at him but then write his paper. Our sixteen-year-old wrecks his first car. Once again, we scream about his lack of responsibility, but we buy him another. In each of these cases, we interfere with the child getting the consequence for their behavior. The child does not learn that their behavior informs and determines their outcome in life. The only thing they learn is that mama or daddy will yell, but then they will step in and fix the problem.
Let me be clear, I am only talking about age-appropriate consequences. If I see a 2-year-old with a butcher knife or about to run into the street, I will intervene. But if I can be reasonably sure that a wobbly two-year won’t get hurt, I want to let the child struggle to regain his footing. It’s the struggle that builds his muscles. Many years ago, I was helping my grandma gather eggs. One of the hens sat on her nest with tiny chicks chirping about her. Grandma lifted up the hen to see if the hatching was complete. However, one of the eggs had a tiny chicken leg that had broken free. I reached to pick it up, and Grandma said, "Leave it be. You cannot help that chick by breaking the shell for him. If you do, the chick will not survive because his legs will not be strong enough to carry him. He must break through the shell on his own."
I bet most of you know someone with a 50-year-old child who still depends upon mama or daddy to bail him out when he can’t pay his rent or come up with the down payment for a car or a house. That 50-year-old was raised to be a perpetual child. How many grandparents do you know who are raising their grandchildren because their kids are in jail, on drugs, or simply incompetent to do it?
When your child has a problem that they created, stop yelling and then solve the issue. Instead, say, “I love you very much and have faith that you can figure this out. How do you propose to take care of this problem?” Be a soft place to land with love and emotional support when your child has a problem, but do not rob your child of their power to fix their own problems and create the life they want to live.