I hear you, “You can’t call a child an ‘asshole’!” Um…if you’ve known as many kids as I have, you’ll agree, some kids are definitely assholes. But, more importantly, I got your attention! No one wants their kid to be an asshole.
So…how do you avoid raising an asshole?
1. Set limits and create structure
I can’t tell you how many parents reach out to me for parenting support or a workshop AFTER the kid starts acting like a maniac. Kids get maniac when they lack routine and structure. Their world is chaoitic, therefore they behave chaotically.
Limits begin DAY 1 of the child’s life in the form of swaddling. A swaddled infant feels safe, secure, and knows their position in space, rather than feeling lost. HINT: Those flailing arms are not because they “enjoy feeling their environment” and they’re certainly not dancing or happy, those flailing arms are a symbol of stress and a sign your baby is seeking boundaries and containment.
Watch your baby and follow their lead intially to create a routine, but as they get older, it’s okay to create a routine. It’s best for the child if you adhere to mealtimes, naptimes, bedtimes, bathtimes, etc.
2. Allow for choices and freedom wherever possible
Offering choices is not about being permissive. It’s about giving your child control where control is allowed. Ironically, the more control you give away, the more you keep.
“Good morning! It’s time for breakfast. Would you like eggs or yogurt for breakfast?”
“It’s almost time to head home. Would you like to leave the park now or in five minutes?”
“It’s time for your bath. Would you like your monkey towel or dinosaur towel when we’re done?”
With offering choices where choices are possible (and offering choices you’re comfortable with), the parent is actually maintaining control, but the child is also experiencing the feeling of decision making. Kids who don’t feel in control of their lives will act out of control in order to regain control.
3. Feed your child as if they’re training for the greatest race of their lives
Fact is, they ARE training for the greatest race of their lives..life! I have watched kids go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde in under 30 minutes flat simply from drinking high sugar juices or eating junk food. Ever wonder why toddlers always seem to be constipated and cranky? Let me tell you, if it’d been three days to a week since I’d had a poopy diaper, I’d be enraged, too!
Our bodies were not designed to run on trash, just like cars can’t run on trash although we all wish they could. Our bodies need whole foods, clean foods, and organic foods as fuel. Toddler, just the same, require a diet full of clean, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables of all different colors and textures.
Your child will feel at their best physically, but also mentally, emotionally, & socially.
Major tips for avoiding an asshole:
- Don’t bargain with them
- Tell them what they CAN do, instead of what they CAN’T
- Smile, kiss, hug, and provide positive touch often
- Create chores and assign responsibilities as early as 15-18m (picking up toys, wiping their face, stacking plastic cups, putting shoes in a basket, etc)
- Use feeling words in daily conversation (share your feelings, identify their feelings for them, validate their feelings, and respect their feelings)
- Remember: Kids don’t need to be “entertained”. They need to utilize imagination and evelop comfort during times of silence and delayed gratification
- Allow for various caregiving experiences (church nurseries, school, gym childcare, grandma’s, etc) to create a healthy secure attachment
- Encourage children to solve their own problems, but guide them in using effective problem solving skills
- Keep their environment organized (label, color code, sort, stack, etc) so they know where to find what they need. An organized home is an organized heart.
- Allow for free play without forcing your own agenda
- If you can’t say it in 10 words or less, don’t say it. Kids respond to chunks or words at a time, not lengthy lectures or winded explanations
Most important? Love!!