Every so often an aspect of parenting reported in the media gets mums and dads and everyone in between into a spin.
Recently mine was when I read that Australian comedian Celeste Barber's ultimate parenting hack is dressing the kids in their school uniform in lieu of pyjamas so there is no need to get kids dressed in the morning. I can't wrap my head around that and want more discussion as to the mechanics of that system working well.
Last month an Australian childcare chain got people talking when it announced that it advocated asking permission before changing children's nappies. Many people quickly and loudly declared it rubbish, woke gone mad - but I wasn't so sure.
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I think that as humans of any age, we crave control. This I believe, is one reason why routine is so important to us. Routines allow us to subconsciously know that things will happen at a given time and it helps us take control of our days and lives. We enjoy having control over what we eat, who we spend our time with, what clothes we wear. We accept the struggles for control as children grow into teenagers as a natural part of growing up.
When we don't have control over our lives, a little like what we are all experiencing with Covid right now to varying degrees, we are thrown headfirst into uncertainty, anxiety and stress. The desire for control can manifest into eating disorders or obsessive behaviours through to rigid routines, schedules and toddler tantrums. People of all ages and all stages want control, but we overlook this in the very young and the very old, thinking that we know best.
Since reading about this particular snafu, I took extra notice of the way I speak to our daughter. I will make the disclaimer that each to their own in parenting styles and ways people speak to their children, other than when they speak to them disrespectfully, with no love, affection or kindness. These people just shouldn't have children.
My studies were unscientific but in general I observed that I seek permission from our daughter often. Maybe it's the people pleaser in me, maybe it's the fact that I'm a woman and we constantly say sorry and ask if we can do things instead of just doing them, but even if it is subtle, I ask her permission a lot.
Now when I say I ask her permission, it's not that if she says no to something that we won't do it. Just as if you seek permission to change a nappy it doesn't mean you won't do it if the child disagrees and you'll let them sit in their own filth. Seeking permission can be as subtle as including them in a conversation about what is going to happen. For example, "Can I change your nappy now and then I will get your lunch for you". In our case, I am always outlining the plan and giving her little bits of her day to control so she will be on board. If we interrupt her playing and tell her to hurry into the car, it's akin to an adult sitting down to a binge worthy show and being told they need to immediately get up and go with no idea where to.
Why do we expect kids to yield placidly and uncomplainingly to our whims with nary a question asked? Just as there is a fun-loving child in all of us, there too is an adult in all children grasping for a little control.