Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Should We Push Our Children To Do Things?

A few weeks ago our sitter said something that rubbed me the wrong way. However, it did make me stop and reassess how I parent and how I aid in my children's personal growth. Many know that I am more of an instinctual parent than a demanding one. I prefer for my children to grow and learn because they want to, not because I force them to do this. It is a HUGE help to work with children who have sensory issues rather than try and force them to do what I want them to do.

So when our sitter said that I should push my son and that he "needs to be pushed to do things", I really was not pleased. First, I am the employer and I was not harming my son by allowing him to use his words and make a choice for himself. Second, I have been purposefully modeling peaceful parenting techniques in front of her because she is, now, newly married and wants to start a family soon. When my son said he did not want to go with her to the mailbox, I asked again to be sure and allowed him to stick with his choice. Validating his choices, as long as he is not in danger, is my job.

My son has always had issues going with others whether it be our nanny, his dad, or the in laws. Every day when I left for work he screamed and screamed nearly the whole day. He knows all of these people fairly well so not wanting to go with them is a worry for me BUT he is young and has always been this way. I must honor his feelings and worries so he learns that his needs will be met and exceeded.

I will say that when someone makes a comment like that I do tend to become annoyed, then I reassess just in case I am wrong, then I move on in an appropriate manner. No one is perfect. Our children do learn and grow. Sometimes as a parent it can be easy to get used to a certain stage or behavior and expect that daily from a child when the child may actually be ready for a new stage.

That being said, I will not push my child. Instead I will support him just as I support his sisters when they are ready to try new and different things. I will share information, my life experiences, and help in any way I can. I will encourage. I will not, however, force them to do things that are unnecessary or harmful. I will not steamroll their wants, desires, or self esteem. There will be times I have to say no or redirect, but there will be a great many more times when I can gently foster my children's interests and capabilities as they grow. No, he did not need t be pushed to walk to the mailbox with the sitter. He more likely would have screamed, thrown his body on the concrete and banged his head repeatedly. This is far more dangerous than waiting until he is a bit older and ready emotionally to walk to the mailbox with someone other than me.

(Sidenote: I still do not know if it is separation anxiety, fear of the unknown, or perhaps difficulty adjusting to change that spurred his anxiety over being with someone other than me BUT in the past six months he has been able to stay with or go out with my husband a few times so progress is being made on my son's terms as he is able to handle it.)

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