Parenting might be a little less stressful if we could be more understanding of age appropriate behaviors. We still need to guide our children, but we can do so without judging them. A two-year old will challenge all boundaries, because that’s what two-year olds do.
We must set limits, and teach them to comply, but we do not need to get angry with them. A four-year old will be jealous if they perceive a sibling is getting more than he or she is. If the chocolate is not cut exactly in half, or someone’s piece of cake is bigger, the four-year old is inconsolable. A five year old will not understand why you will not buy everything that catches her eye, or buy her something on every outing.
A thirteen year old is not likely to see anything from the parent’s perspective. In some ways this age is a replay of the two year old stage, with a challenging of boundaries, and a me-me-me mentality. We can gently try to broaden the perspective of the young teen, but calling him selfish or self-centered will only damage his sense of worth, and make him think you do not love him.
If we can convey to our children, at each stage, that we understand the way they are feeling, explaining with love and perhaps some humor, why we cannot give in to their wishes, we will maintain a healthy relationship with them. They will also grow in maturity, which ironically, does not come from being put down or yelled at.
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