Some time ago I read a phrase on the Internet that struck me so deeply that it has since become one of my favorite parenting phrases: “There are no difficult children. The difficult thing is being a child in a world of tired, busy, without patience and in a hurry” .
I don’t know the author of this reflection, but I think his words perfectly describe the ironclad environment in which children are being raised in our society.
An inflexible environment, devoured by immediacy and haste, full of adult concerns that lead us to leave children in the background on too many occasions, of demands, of multitasking that prevent us from connecting… but above all, of labels .
Today I reflect on this topic and why I firmly believe that there are no “difficult children”, but that the problem lies in the adult’s gaze.
Adults label the child for our benefit
Too often we label children without being aware of the emotional damage this can cause.
Thus, we end up classifying as “difficult” the child who does not do what we want him to do : obey at once, listen without protesting, assume his obligations, not fight… On the contrary, we say that “the child is easy” when their upbringing and education is simple and comfortable because it does not give us problems.
If we analyze it, this approach is completely ‘adult-centered’, that is, the needs, opinions and behaviors of children have no place, but must submit to the dictates of adults at all times.
This leads us to label, because in a way, imposing a label on the child reassures us, comforts us and helps us understand (from our adult perspective) what is happening. In addition, when talking to other adults about how “difficult” our child is , we will immediately feel understood and supported because, most likely, other parents also feel that their children are “difficult”.
In this way, under the label of “difficult”, we console ourselves when frustration invades us because our son does not listen to us, does not stand still for a moment or fights with his brothers.
Likewise, this label allows us to remove responsibility when things do not go our way and blame the child for the situation, because unconsciously we feel that it is the child who has to make things easier for us , and not the other way around.
The importance of changing our gaze
Now, what would happen if for once we put on the “child’s glasses” and looked at our children with another look? What would the world be like for them if we adults put aside our demands and our haste and respected them more?
And it is that following the frenetic pace of life that we adults lead is not easy for children . Practically since they are babies we push them to grow at a forced pace, because there is still the false belief that the sooner the child becomes “independent” of his parents, the better his development will be.
This idea makes us adults too often forget the maturational rhythm of children , their concept of time, the progressive development of their abilities, and above all their emotional needs.
Thus, behind that child that we classify as “difficult” , what there really is is a child with needs that are not being properly attended to as a result of our impatience, our physical and mental exhaustion and the “disconnection” with those around us.
In response to the treatment of the adult , the child – who has not yet fully acquired social skills and does not know how to manage his emotions – reveals himself. And he does it by screaming, kicking, exploding emotionally, biting or hitting, discrediting the adult…
What can we adults do?
It is not an easy exercise, but it is extremely important that we adults change the way we address children , raise them and educate them.
It is not about blaming ourselves (parents always do things the best we can and we know), but about being aware that the change is in us .
This is what we can do to improve and balance our relationship with children:
– Treat your children as you would like them to treat you : with patience, respect, love and empathy. We must always keep in mind that our children are people independent of us, with their own tastes and ideas, and in the process of learning.
– We must set limits with respect, empathy and love. These limits must be clear, fair and allow the child to also participate in them.
– Connects emotionally with the child ; it is essential for their development, their happiness and is key to improving behavior.
– Always communicate in a positive way, encouraging active listening, open dialogue and trust.
– Help your child to understand and manage their emotions and respectfully validate what they are feeling at all times.
– Always attend to your child, both physically and emotionally. When a child feels that his parents are by his side , respect him, love him unconditionally and accompany him, he grows up safe, confident, happy, and does not need to call their attention continuously.
– Teaches the child to take responsibility for their actions , to repair the damage they may have done, accept their mistakes and see in them the opportunity to continue learning .
– Promote your child’s autonomy by always respecting their rhythms , and accompanying them in their development, encouraging them and contributing to their strong and positive self-esteem.
– And finally, we must never lose sight of the fact that children, due to their emotional, explosive and restless nature , have behaviors and attitudes that are different from those of adults.
In this sense, if we leave children free to move , run, play without roles or guidelines and learn by exploring their own capacities and abilities, we would not only be contributing to their comprehensive development, but above all to their happiness.