As parents, we always see traits in our kiddos that blow us out of the water! They are beyond their years in one way or another, right? They are smart, creative, speak early, walk early… We have learned so much about how to raise children that it is true. They do appear to be growing up faster and shining more brightly in all areas of development. The unfortunate thing I see as a parent coach, however, is that, as parents, we tend to translate this to mean they are like little adults. They seem to know so much that we soon assign our own levels of understanding and perspective to them. But does that seem fair?
Just last week, I was working with a four-year-old boy who was having a rough morning. I was working with him to “take a break.” We were just sitting quietly and breathing for a few minutes. Then, I started to talk with him about his morning. What I heard from him was both endearing and heartbreaking. He proceeded to share a long and detailed story about an incident at home that had caused him to lose a few privileges (my word). He was very distressed about the situation, and it was clear that this same distress was carrying over into his school day. At one point, I paraphrased a few things back to him and I said, “You made a mistake at home, and there are consequences for our mistakes.” To hear him talk, one may have assumed him to be a few years older than he is, so it didn’t surprise me that I responded with a statement that was beyond his comprehension. I was caught up in his apparent “mature” intellect because he was very well-spoken. He responded to my last few words, exasperated, by saying, “my parents always say that and I don’t even know what that means!!” A-ha!!
When this little boy said he didn’t know what it means, he meant it! He doesn’t understand the word because he is still developing a framework of understanding for cause and effect, actions and consequences. Understanding cause and effect and actions and consequences leads to our ability to discern and make good choices. This type of understanding falls into the prefrontal cortex of the brain and takes years to develop. As parents, it is our job to be teaching and modeling, teaching and modeling, teaching and modeling.....
Are you expecting too much from your child? Next time you say or think to yourself, “he knows better,” I encourage you to stop and reflect on the thought.
Practice Makes Parents. Let me be your coach!
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