Google+ Authentic Parenting: It's NEVER TOO SOON for respect and good manners!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's NEVER TOO SOON for respect and good manners!

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

Situation: My toddler is playing with her little friend. I am sitting at the side looking at this, when the little boy pushes my daughter and yells: "Go over there!" My daughter shrieks and runs in a different direction, to the great dismay of her friend. I calmly say to the boy he might have a better result if he asked her nicely.   At this point, his mother intervenes and says he's only two and a half. I respond that they're never to young to learn how to be polite. She says:"I'll talk to you about that in six months!"

There is not a right age for a child to learn how to respect other people. Respect, politeness and good manners are attitudes that are being assimilated from birth! Your child will observe how you treat others, how his brothers, sisters and friends treat others. Your child learns from life. If your child sees that bullying, disrespect and dominating behavior is tolerated - even laughed with, than he can only aspire to and display such behavior.
Now that doesn't mean that you should get angry with your kid when he's a bit agressive or disrespectful. It doesn't make him/her a bad kid. All you can do is hand them the tools to be a respectful person.

Now here's the glitch. One must understand that a kid can only learn to respect others, if he himself is respected. A great part of respect is allowing the other person his/her own choices. How can we expect our children to respect another human beings' choice, if we don't allow that child to make choices of its own?
It all comes down to coercion again. If we tell our children what to do, how to eat, when to sleep etc... we're ultimately just teaching them that the stronger person can control the weaker. If you are constantly telling your kid what to do, your kid will only learn that he too may one day control another when he finds himself the stronger/older one.
Respecting your child means you acknowledge that they are human beings and that they have - and are entitled too - a mind of their own. It means that you accept that they can oppose to your judgement. It doesn't mean you should fold at their every whim!
If you want your child to do something, instead of telling them too, ask them! If they oppose, explain to them why you want them to do what you want them to do. Your child is not your prisoner, so torture and coercion should be rid of your parenting toolbox.



  1. My parents learnt with me that they had much more success if they asked me to do something instead of told me to do it. Even if it wasn't actually optional.

  2. I agree with you on every point except that you are inferring the aggressive behavior is coming from something the parent does. According to many psychologist and research up to 90% of children will behave aggressively for various reasons. You have only mentioned one of them.- Modelling.

    Most children will do something, some snatch, some pull hair, some do not share, some bite, some push. So, that your little girl that was pushed is likely to show aggression in some other form that may not be so overt. If she doesn't, then that is nothing due to the parents, but her temperament style.

    However, the mother who negated the situation by saying he is only 2.5 years old, should set clear cut boundaries. She should remove her child if it continues, and learn about her child's triggers.

    I have a friend who is so quiet lovely and the least abusive, aggressive parent I know. She is so patient and wise. She has 3 children. Her first child was perfect when it comes to physical aggression. But when her second child become aggressive with her friends child who is 6 months younger, her friend became upset. My friend actually felt so embarrassed. Was very apologetic. 6 months later, her friends child was being aggressive.

    According to scientist and psychologist, aggressive behavior is instinctual amongst toddlers and does not always reflect bad parenting. HOWEVER, it is how we respond to it that will influence the outcome.

  3. This is great. To often people think attachment parenting and gentle discipline lead to unruly children with no respect or manners. Of course, that's ridiculous as AP principles are based around the idea of love and respect for all. I'm from the southern U.S. and manners are pretty popular around here. While they can seem old-fashioned and cliche, it's important to remember that the purpose of manners is for everyone to have a common set of guidelines to follow so that we all feel comfortable interacting with each other. Thanks for the post.

  4. Can a 2.5 year-old follow a set of guidelines? A lot of manners are about being aware of other peoples feelings and controlling your impulses, not to mention using special words with no concrete meaning ('please' is purley a social word) Aren't you asking a iittle bit to much of your child's friend? Maybe the boy was frustrated that your daughter wasn't doing what he wanted or excited because he had worked out a new game they could play. He couldn't control these feelings for her sake they just exploded out in the form of shouting and pulling.

  5. @Sally: it isn't about the kid's behavior, toddlers do push and bite and get angry... It's about the mother's reaction, casting off any effort dedicated to the child's upbringing when it comes to that behavior or politeness, because the kid is too young and he wouldn't understand anyway

    @ Najla:when I talked about modeling, I meant modeling respect and politeness, I didn't mean that aggression comes from modeling, though it might be a part of it. Aggression can stem out of a multitude of things, like a violent birth etc

  6. I like this post, and reading it along with Naja comment made lots of sense.

    I've been to a playground once, when my son was little (maybe 2 ?) and this other boy, a bit younger, kept pulling his hair at every occasion and even went out of his way to do so. When I complained (after my son's hair got pulled for the 12th time or so and he became scared to go play), the mother told me that my son can defend himself, can't he ? I was dumbfounded. Not only was she obviously accepting her son's violent behaviour, but she was also thinking that children should fight for themselves. What insecurity this little boy must be growing in ! His mother will not help him if he is ever bullied, that is what he was taught. No wonder he was so aggressive.


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