This week at Brain, Child I am wondering whether my eight year old thinks I am too hard on his two year old siblings because I was too easy on him. The essay is about how much my conception of good character and the discipline that shapes it has changed in the five and half years between kid number one and kids number three and four. This time around, I have decided to nip problematic behavior in the bud at an age when I used to think it was ‘character building’ and an expression of ‘individuality.’ I have come to believe that promoting kindness and respect starts very young indeed. Toddlers might be irrational and temperamental, but that doesn’t mean we have to meet their every demand at the expense of somebody else’s needs or feelings. Showing them early that other people have rights is just as important as making them feel valued themselves.
Christine Gross-Loh explains in Parenting Without Borders that a reverence for individuality is an American phenomenon and she warns that by privileging it at all costs we might be inadvertently teaching our children ‘that empathy and consideration of others is a choice, not a basic expectation of human decency.’
You can read my essay here and the other posts in our ‘blogging carnival’ at the links below:
- (School of Smock) Carry Your Own Bag: Raising Kids Who Aren’t Helpless
- (Mommy, For Real) Shaping Our Children’s Character: How Much Molding is Too Much?
- (Urban Moo Cow) Please Don’t Make Me Explain the Importance of Thank You
- (Left Brain Buddha) Character, Compassion, and Confucius: On the Yin and Yang of Parenting