Friday, February 29, 2008

Combating Babwise Myths #6: BW parents call their kids words like "manipulative"

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This is one myth I have to concede on to a point. First, not all Babywise parents refer to their children as manipluative, rebellious, etc. But some do.

This is not something that is "outlined" in the book. By that I mean, Babywise never tells you to think of your child or baby in this light. However, some parents do use these terms.

I have heard Babywise parents use such terms, but I have also heard non-Babywise parents do so. So in this post, I implore all parents to think a bit before applying such negative lables to their children.

I know, you think the world of your baby/child. The sun rises and sets on him. When you use terms like that, you are simply frustrated and trying to get your feelings out and point across.

I want to point out a problem with the English language. Our verb are very final. "She is a bad girl to hit." Bam. There it is--final. Other languages, like Spanish, have verb usage that apply a time limit to it. So it comes out more of, "The action of hitting is bad" (not a direct translation, just a "meaning" translation). Semantics? Not really.

Try to explain semantics to a child. They don't get it. "You are bad." Even adults have issues with such statements. In intercultural Communication studies, sematics of these verb differences and problems are looked at. The speaker of the English language is advised to use caution with it.

Children live up to the expectations laid out before them, or at least try to. Children look to their parents for guidance on who they are (at least until peers replace that role). Children are inherently good. They want to do good things and be good people. They want to do what is right. If you put negative lables on them, they run the risk of living up to that expectation. I have a friend with a son a few months older than Brayden--this boy is just over three. He can be a handful. She is always saying he is naughty, which he then finds funny and tries his hardest to be naughty. Brayden never heard the word naughty until he was around them. Positive reinforcement is worth a lot.

Also, you want to take advantage of these years you have when you are the strongest influence over your children. Use these years to teach them morals and to teach them who they are. They are wonderful. You know that. You, more than anyone, know how precious your little one is. No one feels that more than you do. Make sure they get that. When they do something wrong, correct them without placing such final statements as "you are a bad boy" on them. The action was wrong or bad. "It was wrong to hit that boy." Doesn't that tell your son that for one, what was unacceptable (not him but the hitting) and also that he can improve his behavior? If he is bad, he is bad. But if hitting is bad, he can improve that. Treat them as the precious, good-hearted children they are and they will measure up. I fully believe that.

This is just as applicable to babies. Keep in mind that your baby is about as pure as can be. You baby doesn't want to manipulate you. Your baby doesn't want to do things to be rebellious. Your baby wants to please you. Your baby wants to make you smile. Your baby wants to make you laugh. Your baby just can't communicate, and your baby needs time to learn things. If your baby is resistant to learning to self-soothe, he isn't being a brat, he is just taking longer to learn. Incidentally, I also believe toddlers are the same way. They just also happen to test their boundaries quite often. Toddlers also start to display their egocentric beliefs, but it is something they grow out of. You can, and should, help them learn to care about others.

Don't underestimate the power of language. In your communications, you convey most of your message through non-verbal cues. Learn to control your emotions. Children are really good at reading them. Learn to control your thoughts and your words. Parenthood is the fastest way to improve yourself if you will put the effort into doing so.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Hi! While I generally agree with this post - specifically the important of isolating criticism to behavior rather than the child when reprimanding - I strongly disagree with the suggestion that children are inherently good. In fact, I believe the opposite completely. I believe according to scripture that all of humankind is naturally drawn to rebellion, and it is the responsibility of parents to respond with discipline - teaching in love - when the natural sinfulness is displayed. As you mentioned, this does not mean name-calling or insulting your child, but I do think we have to be careful not to believe the lie that our children want to do only good.


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