Although we try to educate ourselves, read books and take great responsibility for our parenthood, we encounter situations where all our hard-earned knowledge disappears with emotions that explode in us. It can happen that during such difficult emotional moments we say words that can hurt a child, and even worse leave an emotional scar. Sometimes these words do not appear obviously harmful – sometimes we are not aware that we are duplicating negative patterns from our own childhood or simply… we do wrong.
“… or I will stop loving you!”
For every toddler, parents are their whole world, the centre of their interests and feelings. This is who they observe as their first role model and they are a kind of mirror in which the child looks at itself from the first days of life. Children completely trust their parents and build their sense of security and belonging. The bargaining chip, or rather emotional blackmail such as “or I will stop loving you” is likely to destroy these feelings and build uncertainty and fear in the child. In the future, such a young person may show a lack of confidence, fear of change or separation anxiety. Since we know and feel that parental love is an unconditional feeling, independent of time, place or situation, why do we make it look the opposite in the eyes of a child? Is this what raising a child is about? Do we want to build respect through fear?
This is the way we most often want to calm the child and soothe its crying. It is also another example of how good intentions can unwittingly turn into a destructive developmental tool. Remember that the very fact that a child is crying means that something has just happened. We should not underestimate such signals! A quarrel with a classmate, a fall off a bike or ordinary sadness should be a moment of special attention for the child and not just ignored. At this point, instead of saying that the toddler has no reason to cry, let’s try to find out the child’s point of view. If this is too much, just hug and wait for them to calm down. It is really simple!
“A man will come and take you”
Whoever has not heard this sentence in childhood let them cast the first stone. Although it sounds trivial, it is an effective scare for parents to try to change unacceptable behaviour. Effective maybe, but is it worth the consequences? Scaring a child is not a useful method of child-rearing. Most often it is used by parents who do not have other tools, are powerless in relation to the child’s behaviour and do not look for ways to solve the problem but choose the easiest path. Raising anxiety in a child can lead to fear of darkness, sleeping alone, a sense of panic in public places and when the parents are out of sight.
In most cases, this magical message causes a completely opposite behaviour. For some children, it actually brings the worst out in them, which only causes the bursting emotions to explode. The introduction of an atmosphere of immediate order or coercion during a child’s difficult situation shows them that we are unable to control our own behaviour, so the child cannot count on us. So we demand something of them that we cannot do ourselves! Instead, let’s take a few deep breaths and then sit down to talk quietly. When the child is not willing to cooperate, we can help with a calming weighted blanket, which relieves tension and puts everyone in a relaxed state.
“If your father finds out about this […]”
Putting one person at home as a special disciplinary authority or the person who imposes penalties is very confusing for a child. Since they love their parents the same, how can they understand that one of them is to be feared and the other is not? Will a child raised in fear of their father want to confide in him or ask for advice in the future? We will only get respect when we have it ourselves. Our children eventually imitate our behaviour even when they don’t understand it! To teach them respect, we must first show and teach them empathy. Then we may proceed to explain why we give way to someone, why you should not look into someone’s correspondence or you should listen to a statement without interrupting.