Why do you always have temper fits when you don’t get your way? Why do you whine to me after school? Why do you always complain about dinners? Why do you always fight with your sister? Why do all parents ask these questions?
These questions are an expression of frustration by parents over behavior exhibited by our children. We as parents all fall into the trap of asking these questions whether they serve a purpose or not. Do these questions ever get answered? No they do not. These questions can be demeaning and labeling for children. That is how children feel when they hear these questions. They are labeled as a fighter, whiner, or complainer. Just in the asking of these questions the child is criticized and treated as one who is acting as a child should not act. Perhaps they should not act that way but changing that behavior takes time. When parents accept their children’s behavior as natural, and accept their behavior as action that all children try with their parents, then parents can forget the “why” questions and move towards more appropriate responses to the behavior. The “why” questions only expose a parent who is not accepting their children acting as all our children act.
How can we better deal with frustrating moments with our children? How can we reach a place where we can be more accepting of how our children act towards us?
First we need to be accepting of the fact that in our role as parent we will face children acting in childish ways. All parents face similar behaviors. All children try the same behaviors on for size. As a parent we will encounter whining, complaining, tantrums, accidents and other childish acts that we cannot control. Many parents spend valuable time asking “why do I have to face this behavior in my child?” Why waste time asking “why”? If we can function at a higher level by accepting our kids as kids, their developmental level and their childish acts then we are ready to respond better. Yes, all parents must accept that their children will act in very embarrassing and childish ways.
Don’t take me wrong. Acceptance of your child’s behavior does not mean giving in to every whim. Part of acceptance is educating yourself about your role and how you can better respond to your kids. Acceptance gives you a place from which you can act without fighting the reality of your situation. Acceptance gets you over the why questions and moves you towards “how do I respond” questions. This is where you have control. This is where you can decide how to act, ignore, or give fair consequence to your children’s behaviors. Acceptance gets you over the anger brought on with “why” questions and lets you treat your children with greater kindness. You no longer act in condemning ways but with a more fair response to your child’s manner.
Why questions make a child question themselves. Your acceptance of them gives them more leeway to accept themselves. Children that grow up with less questioning and less condemnation grow up liking themselves and turn into confident people. It is purely for that reason that acceptance of your children’s behaviors is important to you in your life as a parent and to your children in their life as a child. After acceptance, remember that it is your responses to your child’s behavior that can make the behavior better. From a place of acceptance a parent is in a more peaceful position to choose a response that teaches their child how they should or should not behave.