Dear Parents: If You Want to Raise Competent Kids, Have Some Confidence in Them
Seriously folks, this ain’t rocket science
“You’re going to drop that bag right on your foot,” said a young mother to her daughter, who appeared to be about four years old.
There are few things in this world that are more cringe-inducing to me than hearing parents speak to their precious offspring like that young mother was doing to her child, which is predicting that something they are doing isn’t going to end well. Perhaps the modern phrase is it’s a “trigger” to me. In any event I just cannot stomach hearing people talking to the kids as though they are incompetent idiots who can’t do anything right.
I say it’s a “trigger” because it reminds me of hearing the same negative words from the mouths of many adults along my several decades of existence. I dearly wish that people would learn to not talk to their kids that way.
Early in my parenting journey I realized this wasn’t the way I wanted to raise my son. No way in Hell was I going to be that over-protective and supposedly well-meaning mom who kept telling her kid he “couldn’t” (was unable to) do something or that whatever he attempted was going to not work out or would end in disastrous results … like the mom above who told her kid she was going to drop the bag.
(Oh and by the way, the kid didn’t drop the bag. I knew she wouldn’t. And also BTW, my son has grown to be a good, productive, hard-working contributing citizen, out in the world doing life or “adulting,” as some say. As his mom I am super proud.)
To my way of thinking, predicting “disastrous” outcomes is like telling children they are incapable of doing things — before they have even tried to do them!! Or the parent implies to the child there’s just no way they could learn to do it and so mommy or daddy must do it for them. This is insulting to the kids’ intelligence, plus they learn from this that they aren’t capable and — after receiving these messages for years — may lack confidence in their abilities, or lose the desire to ever try anything new.
A worst-case scenario may be kids who grow up to be highly dependent on others and/or develop severe anxiety because they’re scared of everything, all the time. Why, seriously…