Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Parent Question #2

Rules are made so children:
a.    Will learn how they are supposed to act and behave at home and in school.
b.    Will follow them without questioning them.
c.    Will learn who is boss.

Of course the best answer is “A”. However, children do not begin to understand or comprehend how rules really work until about 5 or 6 years of age. For example, playing a card game with children before they have a grasp of rules is hard since they just don’t get it! Games such as Candy Land are a good way to start to introduce rules to young children, but we can’t expect total comprehension of rules until around the age of 7.

Did you think the right answer was “B”? This is a hard call. That is because many adults think children should simply mind or obey. But we need to be approachable and help children learn when to ask questions or clarify a misunderstanding. What if a babysitter or friend tells them something unsafe or unacceptable? Are ALL adults always right? Children have to learn to think and problem-solve when their parents are not around.

Of course the “C” response (that children will learn who is boss) isn’t good enough parenting. Children can and should have a say in some of the rules. Rules are not about power, but about learning socially acceptable behaviors. After all, that’s the reason we parent – to teach our children how to behave in our society. When we allow them to discuss some rules and consequences, we are teaching them how to think.

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