As parents, we usually want our children to be polite and well-behaved. We teach them to listen, to wait, to tidy up after themselves, to be helpful, polite and nice. We’re proud if they do what we told them to do.
Then, when they grow up, we want them to be successful. We expect that they find a good job, find the right partner, and in general, be responsible for themselves. We aren’t as proud as before if their decisions don’t appeal to us.
How do we expect a polite child to become a responsible adult? It is as if by teaching them to listen to others, we wanted them to learn to make decisions on their own.
Why do we want children to be “good”?
Having good, well-behaved children at home means fewer problems for the parent. We grow used to our own ways in our own homes and the arrival of a baby turns our lives upside-down. It is natural that many parents try to get back to the peaceful state from before the stork’s visit. They may feel so tired or overwhelmed that they don’t pause to think about their child’s emotional needs. Since we all learn from examples and through modeling, the parents may simply copy the type of parenting they experienced at home.
They may also believe that young children or even teens don’t have the knowledge or life experience to take their opinions into account. There are parents who think that they know better and don’t allow other family members to speak their minds.
While children may not have a lot of life knowledge or experience, they have their own emotions and definitely their own opinions about things around them. If we disregard their feelings when they’re young, we teach them that they don’t matter. This, in turn, may cause them to feel less self-confident, more anxious and even lead to neurosis.
As children grow up, they begin to act more and more independently, especially during their teenage years. Nowadays, they have constant access to virtually all of the knowledge of the world. During this period it is vital that they learn how to pursue their own goals and express their own opinions in an assertive, non-aggressive way. If we only get them to do what we want, they will learn how to follow orders, not their own dreams.
What is your parenting goal?
Who do you want your child to become? A perfect corporate worker? A creative individual, who follows their dreams and sets their own goals? Do you want your child to stand in line and fit into the system? Or to make a difference in the world to come?
The world is changing so fast, that we cannot be sure which jobs of today will survive and what new professions people will come up with. The educational system changes very slowly and hardly adapts to the needs of the modern world. What we need to teach our children is how to be creative and flexible.
We also need to remember that every child is different. Everyone has different strengths. This is what makes each person even more valuable. We may either kill these strengths in our children or allow them to thrive. It depends on whether we allow the child to express themselves, to find out what their assets are and to help them develop.
How to help your child succeed
Success in the future world will probably mean two things: assessing the needs and catering for them. In order for our children to be able to do that, they need to be observant, able to assess their own assets, find their opportunities, and to act faster than others.
To teach them these skills, we need to also focus on their strengths and help them develop in this direction. We might also find out what motivates our child, what makes them excited and show them how to use this excitement to achieve their own goals.
Politeness and empathy
Maybe I should have distinguished between these groups before. This post is about children, who are good and nice because they were taught to listen, to be quiet, and not to cause trouble.
Polite and well-behaved children may as well be those who don’t feel the need to misbehave because their basic needs are met. Such needs as being supported emotionally by parents, being heard and listened to, being understood and able to trust. These children tend to develop harmoniously and, if supported by their families, learn how to achieve their own goals.
There is also nothing bad in teaching kids to follow general, socially-accepted rules and guidelines for behavior provided it is not at the cost of the child’s inner peace. There is a difference between telling them not to speak with their mouths full, “because I say so” and by explaining that this is unpleasant for others when you spit out your food. Being polite may be a result of fear or empathy. It is always extremely valuable to teach our children empathy.
To sum up…
Parenting is a difficult task. It consists of making decisions that may make our life more difficult so that it gets easier for our children in the long run. Getting to know our child, finding out what their assets are, creating an emotional bond through genuine communication may lead to great achievements in their future.
As a teacher, I’ve always preferred to work with the “naughty” classes. I noticed that quiet classes usually didn’t give me much feedback whether they understood me or not. They also weren’t very active when it came to organizing school ceremonies or festivals. On the other hand, in a noisy class, I knew exactly when I was doing something wrong and tried to take their needs into account while planning my teaching. They also just waited to be asked to do something extra. Working with them gave me much more satisfaction and I believe also better results.