Thursday, June 14, 2012

kids are people too

so this has been on my mind and heart for the past month or more. so much so that i have a sticky note on my desk top {a virtual one} with some thoughts i've had on this subject.
then today a friend on facebook linked to this article which relates to how i've been feeling and what i've been thinking. {and also brings this whole issue back to my heart and it was a good read. go read it for yourself.}

basically, kids are people too. we need to treat them as such.
yes they are cute. and little. and squishable. but they have feelings. and opinions. and preferences.
now i'm definitely not saying that when a kid prefers to eat candy over vegetables that you should make sure you do a switcheroo and put a plate full of candy in front of them. no sir. but i think the way we speak to our kids {and the way you speak to other people's children - whether you have your own or not} should be respectful and understanding.

i've seen my kids poked, prodded, and picked up against their will while here in uganda. i've seen people get right up in their face and speak loudly and give no time for an answer before asking them another question. loudly. and in their face.

part of this is cultural, but i've also had things happen in canada where my kids are saying "no" and that they are done and the person playing with them thinks it's funny or cute and is not respecting my child's boundaries or request for said activity to finish.
you wouldn't walk up to an adult and pinch their cheeks or twirl them around or tickle them mercilessly and disregard any request for those activities to stop, so how come this is acceptable with our children?
how will they learn that when they say "no", people should listen and respect that if the adults around them don't seem to? or that they should speak up about things that make them feel uncomfortable and take a stand?

one of the realities of living here is being treated like a celebrity.
while we were up north on safari, it seemed like every single staff person at the hotel knew my kids by name and would say hi to them. which was fine. but it was the staff coming up to us during our mealtimes and demanding conversations with my kids and one staff even demanding jude to share his food with him and when jude {understandably} refused, he picked up jude's fork, put it in a potato on my plate and then put it in his mouth. um? no.
it's no wonder that my older son, noah, does not take well to this. he dislikes a lot of attention to begin with {even from people he knows}, and so this has been extremely stretching for him. we've worked hard and role played with him to help him learn that even if he doesn't feel like being someone's best friend, it's still polite to say hello and shake someone's hand. {the shaking hands thing is not even close to happening, but we're still working on it.} we talk through situations, but i completely understand how hard it must be for him.
after our experience at the hotel, it's no wonder he hides his face or gives an angry look at strangers to ward off unwanted attention.

anyway, all i'm saying is, let's treat these little people with respect. just because they're little does not make them less of a person.

agree? disagree? thoughts or advice? i'm all ears!


  1. totally agree. I still hate being tickled against my will just as much (if not more) than when I was a kid! I totally get Noah (and if I was Jude I would have roared and grabbed my fork back...Shereen doesn't share food!) haha!. Seriously though, not cool.

  2. I know you wrote this a looong time ago but I was just browsing backwards through your blog and am reading it for the first time. :) I totally agree. Just a couple weeks ago we were walking up to the door of our church (and by we I mean just me lugging both twins because John was away and it was a miracle I was there) and this woman whom my children barely know flings the door open and practically screams in my daughters face "MARLOW, HELLO HELLO HELLOOOOO MARLOOOOOW! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! HOW ARE YOU?! MARLOW!!!" My poor daughter's eyes got big and then scrunched shut as she buried herself in my shoulder and sobbed. Can you imagine doing that to an adult? How scary when she is barely as tall as my knees and this person is towering over her. If a huge man did that to a small woman we would have him arrested! I couldn't hide my frustration at her cluelessness as I gathered Marlow up who most certainly would now have a terrible time leaving me to go to the nursery and hurried past the woman.

    I just don't understand why adults think children must like them, want to be touched and held by them. Do you know how short their memories are? I can barely remember your name lady, do you think she knows who you are! I read an article recently explaining that it is very important not to force your children to hug, kiss or sit on laps of people they don't want to, even family, because this communicates to them that they don't own their bodies and when a stranger tries something on them they may carry this belief into a dangerous situation.

    One more note of support, J and I have been working on respecting what our kids say the first time they say it (as long as it is not disobedient or dangerous) specifically if we have asked them a question like "are you all done your dinner?" or "do you want more?". If we show them that what they say means something they are less likely to get frustrated and disobedient because they feel listened to and respected. If they say all done and we keep trying to push food on them, asking more questions, changing the subject, inevitiably they begin to get worked up. Wouldn't you?? This was a new lesson for J when he realized his kids felt ignored by him and that's why they were crying to get out of their chairs instead of just asking like he wanted them to. They HAD asked, and then he had tried to get them to eat more! Another one we worked on was getting J to here them when he is rough-housing and they want to stop. I find especially guys often take it too far, tickle too much or chase too scary and they aren't hearing that the child doesn't want it.

    It is all separate and random thoughts related to treating them like people. Respecting their bodies and their hearts so that they will. Creating safety and security that we all need. I'm glad you wrote this post, it is something more parents need to think through. Our job is to protect, guide, love, grow, teach, discipline but that doesn't mean we "own" our children.

    1. Great comment, Sarah. And I agree with everything!
      We've also been going through an issue with Jude where he'll "play" us. I'll go in for a good-night kiss or hug and he'll say, "NO HUG! NO KISS!" and so I'll say "Okay. That's fine. Good-night, Jude." and walk away. Then he'll yell and eventually if left, scream and cry that he wants a kiss and hug.
      Or the same thing happens with food.
      "Are you done, Jude? Can Daddy eat your food?"
      Then Jamie eats it and Jude HOWLS because he's changed his mind.
      So last night we had a particularly rough day. We said out loud that we're taking him at his FIRST word and if he tantrums because we've actually LISTENED to him, he gets removed/ignored. It's hard to explain to a three year old that you need to mean what you say and you can't play games with people, but hopefully enough consistency will help to teach him this.

      My situation (right now) is not entirely related to this post, but somehow applicable. :)
      Thanks for sharing and commenting!


I love hearing from you!
If you're commenting as "Anonymous" please make sure to sign your name under your comment so I know who you are!
Happy day to you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...