Creative Child

Kids are People, Too – Treating Children with Kindness and Respect

by Rebecca Eanes

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When a mom confesses “I yelled at my kid today,” she is met with empathy. “It’s okay. Everyone yells sometimes. Parenting is hard. You’re doing a good job.” When a mom confesses “My kid yelled at me today,” she is told “Don’t let her get by with that. She needs disciplined.”

 

We are treated differently not based on our behavior, but on our age.

 

In an article I wrote for Boston Parents Paper last year, I said, “As a parent, I’ve lost my temper and yelled at my kids. I’ve ran to my room and slammed the door. I’ve yelled at my spouse, hung up on telemarketers and said negative things under my breath to the person who cut me off in traffic. I’m not a bad person. I’m a human person. Our children aren’t bad kids. They’re human kids. They make mistakes. They get angry. Sometimes they’re rude or grouchy. It’s never OK to treat others badly, and of course they should be taught that, but when we correct them, let’s do so bearing in mind that we, ourselves, are sometimes guilty of the things we are correcting them for.”

 

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Kindness and respect doesn’t diminish our authority, it strengthens it. Let’s remember that we aren’t so perfect either, and that our children are people, too. They deserve the same patience, graciousness, and courtesy that we offer to grown people.

 

Why does it matter? If it’s so commonplace, why change it now?

 

The major problems we face in society from crime to racism stem from a lack of respect and kindness to our fellow human beings, and if we continue to grow children with disrespect, this will never change. When we set the standard so low in those early years for how young and vulnerable humans should be treated, we can’t expect humanity to rise above those standards. The cycle of disrespect just keeps repeating. Kindness isn’t as important as power, and we keep seeing that play out over and over again, because the kids who were treated as worth less grow up to treat others as worthless.

 

Kindness isn’t only measured by how much we buy them, how many places we take them, or how much we do for them. It’s also (and more importantly) measured in how we respond when they cry, correct them when they make a mistake, hold them through their fears. It’s in how we regard them each and every day – in our actions, words, and attitudes. Peace on earth begins in how we treat the littlest humans today.

 

“Kindness to children, love for children, goodness to children – these are the only investments that never fail.” – Henry David Thoreau

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 

 

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