1. Kids are people too. They have feelings and deserve respect, even from a young age. Especially from a young age.
2. How we speak to kids matters. It tells kids how we feel about them. And how we feel about kids helps shape their views of themselves. Beliefs about oneself is extremely important with regard to your child’s health and success, in future relationships and life in general.
3. We teach by what we do. If we are respectful, open, trusting and positive, we will teach kids to be the same. We can’t be sarcastic, punitive and micromanagey with our kids and expect them to be genuine, generous, and trusting with us or anyone else.
4. The relationships we have with our kids early on lays the groundwork for the relationships we will have with them later on. It might seem difficult, but it is worth it. As your child gets bigger, you will thank yourself for cultivating a loving, healthy, and respectful relationship. The opposite is also true. You might curse yourself and wonder how things went wrong if you don’t put good work in early.
5. We can get cooperation from kids without coercing or controlling them. It may take a little bit longer to figure out how to use a cooperative style of parenting. But cooperative parenting is empowering, authentic, and enduring. And it’s way less drama. Dominating a child leads to power battles and standoffs in a big way. Cooperation leads to understanding and respect, on both sides. Imagine a having a loving child that really respects and listens to a parent. I believe it’s possible. But we have to remember that true respect is earned not granted.
Cooperative parenting sets our children up for success. A child in this environment will hold his head high, will have agency and control over his own life. Feeling like you have control over your own life is incredibly reassuring and calming. However, a child who is dominated will not feel calm or in control. He will be agitated: withdrawn one minute, angry or sad the next, looking for control, lashing out…overcompensating and confused. For parents, this behaviour can come across as unexplainable, unpredictable and draining. But it’s completely understandable.
I don’t believe it has to be this way. Doing away with control and coercion, while allowing for free expression will help us have calmer more loving homes. It will also help our children figure out who the heck they are and what they want from life: sooner rather than later. I remember being 35 years old thinking…who am I, what do I want? My job, as I see it, is to help my kids become the best versions of themselves, not some idea of what I want them to be. A child who knows himself, and loves himself for it, will be a pleasure to be around. More confident, with a real sense of empathy and fairness, we can trust that this child will do good for themselves and good for the world.