As parents, it’s only natural for us to guide our children in their decision-making process. It will be some time before our kids are able to make their own informed decisions fully. Until then it’s up to us parents to stand by them. A big part of this process involves teaching kids what not to do. Children often can’t differentiate between right and wrong, and parents have to reprimand them from time to time. However, there must be a healthy balance in forbidding our children from doing certain things and letting them express themselves. Parents might fall into the habit of reprimanding their children unnecessarily even without realizing it. Children should be given some room to make their own decisions without you breathing down their necks. Let’s look at some things you should try not to forbid your child from doing:
Crying When They Want To
Sadly, it’s common to hear adults tell their children to “stop crying” or “only cowards cry”, and worse, “don’t cry like a girl”. You don’t realize that when you do this, you’re basically telling them not to express very basic emotions. Crying is an outlet, and a form of them expressing their dislike toward something. Just like adults, children feel emotions strongly too, and they are entitled to express them just as much. It’s extremely important to not shame them for crying. Instead, let them vent their emotions as much as they need. Once they’re done and you see that they are in a calmer state of mind to understand things, you can have a conversation with them about what went wrong and how to approach certain situations.
Crying is associated with mood regulation and relief. It is a self-soothing process that also contributes to the development of socio-emotional skills (1). By crying their hearts out, children blow off the extra steam. Telling children not to cry is pretty much like telling them not to feel a certain way!
Asking Questions, No Matter How Stupid
The world has so much to offer and we as adults have so many questions; imagine how much more a child would have! Asking questions contributes to the cognitive development of children (2). Questions offer an opportunity to learn. So when you forbid your little one from asking questions, you’re preventing them from learning something new. Something else happens too when you stop them from asking questions — they begin to believe that it is wrong to do so. This attitude can negatively affect your child later in life. Chances are that your child might grow up to be afraid to ask questions and voice their opinions. This will hamper them in all spheres of life– be it study, dealing with people, relationships, and more.
Instead, encourage your child to ask questions, no matter how silly their questions may be. You can then teach them how to be polite when asking questions, or how to do so without offending the other person. You can also inculcate in them the attitude to try finding the answers themselves first before asking others. Forming a problem-solving attitude will really boost their confidence and prepare them for any challenges in the future.
Wanting Things, And At Times, Being Greedy!
Time and again we’ve been told that greed is a vice, and it is, but it’s also okay to be greedy sometimes! There is nothing wrong with wanting something genuinely. Understanding ownership is also a part of cognitive development and growth in children (3). In certain cases, we’re all entitled to certain things, and the same holds true for your little one as well. Just like adults, children like to have things that they want to call their own. However, there’s a fine line between wanting things and getting them just like that, and wanting things and earning them. With the latter, they’ll appreciate the value of things much better. For example, if your child wants a particular toy, understand that it is okay for them to want such things. Maybe you could tell them that they will get the toy, provided they work for it. Slide in the opportunity for them to earn what they want by acts such as cleaning their room, doing their homework, and watering the plants.
Saying “No” When They Have To
The idea of saying “no” is often misunderstood as something negative or arrogant. It isn’t. Adults and children alike are entitled to say no when they strongly feel like it. As a parent or caretaker, you may get offended if your child says “no” to you, but you’ll have to put your ego on the backburner when this happens sometimes. A “no” when needed helps your child regulate their own actions. Additionally, it helps your little one set clear boundaries and personal preferences that ought to be respected. Instead of curbing them from saying “no”, you could make them understand the situation better by explaining why you think otherwise. When you let your child feel comfortable with saying “no”, they also replicate this outside the confines of their homes. And we can all agree that the outside world, at times, will call for situations where you need to stand firm and say “no”!
You know how they say that experience is the best teacher? Truer words were never spoken! All through your parenthood, you will find yourself in countless situations when your little one makes mistakes. And sometimes, you need to let them. When they falter the first time, they’ll see for themselves where they went wrong. And if they don’t, make them understand, but don’t punish or yell at them for it. Subjecting them to scrutiny and harsh criticism will stop them from doing things on their own in the future, or prevent them from even trying.
Parenting involves the need to set boundaries and limitations — this is completely fine and acceptable. But not under the circumstances we mentioned above. These are the grey areas where you back off and let your child be an individual in their own right. Do you have more to add to the list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
- Is Crying A Self-soothing Behavior?
- Children’s Questions: A Mechanism For Cognitive Development
- Mine or Yours? Development of Sharing in Toddlers in Relation to Ownership Understanding