Children are born into this world needy and helpless. They are born without the ability to speak, without the ability to express their feelings clearly, without the ability to satisfy their own essential needs or change anything in their world. They are equipped with one skill to rule their world – crying.
With their cries, they try to tell us they are wet, hungry, hot, cold, uncomfortable, in pain, tired, thirsty, itchy or anything else they may feel or need. If you want to understand how it feels to be a baby with only one way of expressing yourself, try it. Spend a whole day communicating with the outer world without speaking, without any hand gestures, without using facial expressions, only by crying! This will give you a better perspective on being a baby.
Luckily for us, babies are very smart and manage to use the tone and pattern of their cries as a way to express various needs. A research done with mothers found out they can usually tell why their baby is crying – whether they are hungry, wet or tired.
Although kids are very creative in their expression, they feel very small in the world and with a great sense of dependency on the adults in their life. If they want the toy but cannot reach it, they need someone stronger or bigger to bring it closer to them. If they want to reach the counter, they need someone stronger or bigger to bring them the sugar from the counter. When they have trouble with other kids, they depend on grownups to help them sort it out.
Assuming you were once a baby yourself, you would have developed this rule at some stage of your life:
Everyone needs to depend on someone stronger than themselves
It is natural for kids to adopt this rule, because kids really do depend on the grownups in their life to help them survive the challenges they face. Kids think of themselves as weak, a position that we need to get them out of as soon as possible.
You see, following this rule produces very undesirable outcomes in the long term:
- When kids find the grownups weak, they feel their whole world is unstable
- When kids think of themselves as weak, they develop an inferiority complex and try to stay away from strong individuals who may empower them
- When kids think of themselves as weak, they become pessimistic and this damages their self-confidence
- When kids think of themselves as weak, they grow up to be afraid of authority and attract friends who are not equal to them
10 things parents can do to give their kids strength and confidence
The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence
– Denis Waitley
- Tell your kids the story of the lion and the mouse
- Take your kids to watch movies about the weak fighting the strong, like Mulan, Chicken Run, Robots, Antz or the Bee Movie. Remember, it is important to talk about the small against the big and instill the thought that small is not necessary weak or helpless
- Talk to your kids about the advantages of being small – getting your hands into small places, sitting on dad’s shoulders, being carried, having more fun TV shows to watch… Help your kids understand that each age has its advantages. One advantage they have is having their life ahead of them. They will reach your age one day, but you cannot go back to their age, so they should enjoy the age they are in now!
- When choosing your kids’ clothes for tomorrow, if you are not happy letting them search the whole closet for something to wear, pick two options and let them chose one. Whenever you can, give them choices. It will increase their sense of independence
- Give your kids their own spoon the second they can hold something. Messiness is a cheap price to pay for independence
- Even if it takes longer, encourage your kids to get dressed by themselves
- When your kids show interest, teach them to tie their own shoelaces
- When there is not much risk in your kids making a choice and they are not sure what to do, encourage them to go with their own gut feeling or what seems more appropriate. Emphasize the process, not the result
- Compliment your kids on the courage to make choices, regardless of the outcome. Tell them about choices you have made in the past that have not worked exactly the way you wanted, but you have still learned something from them. It will reduce their pressure to make the “right choice”. After all, they are not fortunetellers
- Remind your kids that every moment of life is a choice. Even when we do not control everything that happens to us, we can control how we respond to it
Remember, kids have this rule naturally, but if they keep this rule later on in life, they cannot recognize their abilities and strengths.
Join me tomorrow for the 10th irrational rule of living – The power of the past.
This post is part of the series Irrational Rules of Living:
- Irrational Rules of Living – External Approval
- Irrational Rules of Living – Self Worth
- Irrational Rules of Living – Problem Solving
- Irrational Rules of Living – Right and Wrong
- Irrational Rules of Living – My Way or the Highway
- Irrational Rules of Living – Disempowerment
- Irrational Rules of Living – Anxiety
- Irrational Rules of Living – Avoidance
- Irrational Rules of Living – Dependency
- Irrational Rules of Living – The Power of the Past
- Irrational Rules of Living – Sympathy
- Irrational Rules of Living – Discomfort and pain