Respect vs. Sarcasm With Children

shutterstock_65137336It’s always good to work with parents in parenting class for more than just a few weeks.  In talking and getting acquainted, you can get to know a lot about the family dynamics.  Sometimes when we as parents are confronted with the beginning of “pushback” from our children, we have this inner red flag that goes up.  This pushback starts in the toddler stage with “No”.  We’ve all heard that. We begin to panic that God forbid, we are “losing control”.  We immediately react and stop it in its tracks.  In what we think is a well-earned response but is actually sarcasm, we symbolically pound our chests reminding our children that we are the ones with the power – we are the ones who will always win and they don’t have a chance.  At this point, the child is already in control as they quickly learn that when I push mom and dad’s buttons getting an emotional rise out of them as they scramble to control me, “I feel powerful!”.  Another down side of this parental reaction is the sarcasm or mixed messages that are so divisive.

When a child begins to push back, they are doing what naturally comes next to them.  They are beginning to become independent, self-reliant and confident.  Growing up in a world that is centered in the survival of the fittest mentality, it’s important that we do everything we can to facilitate this independence.  We should even celebrate it the first time it happens because our child is very normal and if we do a good job, they won’t be sitting around the house as adults when they should be out going to college or working at a good job.

So how do we facilitate this in a healthy way to give them freedom within boundaries without sarcasm and power struggles?

The definition of sarcasm is described as the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny.   Sarcasm is not a laughing matter with children and you may lose an opportunity to build a relationship of trust with your child at a very crucial stage.

When a child resists you, do everything you can to treat them with respect as you redirect them. Stand firm on what you have requested without an argument filled with sarcasm and put downs.  Respect their feelings and encourage better communication so you know why they’re resisting you if there is an immediate reason.  Your child will have greater respect for you and for themselves because you understand that it’s okay for them to have a different opinion and that obedience doesn’t have to happen because they lost the argument.  Everyone is a winner this way.

Rita Foster

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