Your Kid Is Not The Only One

Last night I ran a mini Positive Discipline workshop for the local moms club.

And one of the first things I did was ask the moms to make a list of their biggest parenting challenges. You know, real button-pushing behaviors.

90% of the moms in attendance had kids who were 4 years old or younger. And when I asked them to share their challenges, they all seemed to be really hesitant. Like they were embarrassed to acknowledge that their kids weren’t perfect.

It took a minute or two before someone threw hitting out there.

And I actually heard someone exhale and say, Ahhhh. It’s not just me. 

So let me put this out there for any of you moms who think your kids are doing stuff that other peoples’ kids don’t do…

Your kid is not the only one who gets pissed and hits you. Lots of kids do that.

Your kids are not the only kids who attempt to beat the crap out of each other.

Your kid is not the only kid who lies.

Your kid is not the only kid who bites.

Your kid is not the only kid who is afraid of the noise the toilet makes when it flushes or who is terrified of the hand dryer in the Target bathroom (holy shit that thing is loud).

Your kid is not the only kid who has told you he hates you and he hates his entire family.

Your kid is not the only kid who rolls her eyes at you.

Your kid is not the only kid who talks back.

Your kid is not the only kid who steals stuff.

Your kid is not the only kid in kindergarten (or second grade or even seventh grade) who still wets the bed at night.

Your kid is not the only kid who refuses to wear clothing that doesn’t have elasticized waistbands.

Your kid is not the only kid who demands that her apples be sliced into perfectly-sized slices.

Your kid is not the only kid who still has a blankie. Even if she’s in high school.

Your kid is not the only kid who still uses a pacifier when she’s four years old.

Your kid is not the only kid who is eight years old and can’t ride a bike yet.

Your kid is not the only kid who does some really weird shit, whatever it is, that you are sure nobody else’s kids could possibly do.

All kids do strange or stupid or annoying or mean or puzzling or unbelievably frustrating things.

So don’t beat yourself up, and don’t be embarrassed.

Your fellow moms may not be broadcasting these things to the world, but I guarantee you, whatever challenging/infuriating/fucked up things your kids are doing, their kids are doing them, too.

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Kids Don’t Need Praise. But They Do Need This Instead.

When your kid does something you are happy about, what do you say to him or her?

Do you say, “Good girl!!! Good boy!!!”?

Do you say, “Good following directions!” or “You are such a good listener!”?

I know for me, some of those responses can be automatic.

Why do we say these things to kids?

We say these things because we want our kids to continue to behave. We say them because we want to increase their self-esteem.

What we don’t realize is that we are often doing the opposite by constantly praising our kids.

By constantly praising our kids, we are teaching our children to rely and depend upon the approval and opinions of other people.

Because what is the definition of praise?

  • to express favorable judgment of
  • to glorify
  • an expression of approval

Praise addresses the person and not the action. It recognizes perfection, it is patronizing, and it invites children to change because of or for another person and not from in internal locus.

So while we think we are helping our children by giving them lots of praise, we are not.

We are creating approval junkies who need praise from other people in order to feel good about themselves. And that is not encouraging confidence in one’s own worth or abilities and self-respect. Which is the definition of self-esteem.

Here is the other thing.

Would you speak that way to one of your friends?

If your friend saw you carrying a bunch of grocery bags inside and she went and grabbed some from the car to help you out, what would you say to her?

Would you say, “WOW! You are such a good helper!!!”

HA! No way!

Because it’s totally condescending.

But we talk in this patronizing way to our children. We don’t realize we are being patronizing to them when we do this. But we are.

A little praise, like a little candy, is fine. Everybody likes it. Kids love it.

But a lot of it is unhealthy.

It is not praise but encouragement that boosts our children’s self-esteem.

Encouragement means to inspire with courage. To spur on. To stimulate.

Encouragement addresses what our kids are doing. It recognizes effort and improvement. It is respectful and appreciative and it invites an inner direction. It teaches kids how to think, and not what to think.

Most importantly, it helps kids to feel worthwhile without other peoples’ approval.

And boy do I hope that is one gift I can give my kids before they leave the nest! I want them to feel good about themselves all on their own. No matter what anyone else says to them.

The next time your kid comes home with a good grade on a test or a project, try encouraging the behavior that helped them earn that grade.

You worked hard. You deserve it!

The next time your daughter helps you carry things in from the car, try

Thanks so much for the help. I really appreciate it!

The next time one of your kids shows you a Lego creation they’ve just made, try

How do you feel about it?

The next time your son gets a base hit in a little league game, say

You must be really proud of yourself!

Before you say something to your kids, ask yourself, Is this something I would say to my friends?

And if it’s not, reword it so it is.

Because praise, like candy, might be what your children want.

But encouragement is what they need.

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The Root Of A Larger Problem

Everybody knows how I feel about people who don’t return their shopping carts.

I can’t stand them. And yes. I judge the shit out of them.

I am not talking about senior citizens who can barely walk. I’m not talking about the physically challenged. I’m not talking about moms who go shopping with a newborn and two kids under the age of 5.

I am talking about able bodied adults with no children in tow who are not in a rush.

They comprise approximately 90% of the people who do not return their carts.

I know this because I watch you. I watch all of you.

And I am bothered by you.

Why?

Because what you are doing affects me.

If you want to be lazy and sit in your car with your blinker on for five minutes waiting while someone loads all their stuff in their car rather than walking twenty more feet from a parking space that’s open but a little farther away, that’s fine. Go for it.

Quite frankly, I don’t get that either. I mean, you’d get inside the store faster if you just pulled into the space that was a little farther away.

But whatever.

Your opposition to walking as few steps as possible to get to your destination doesn’t affect me. So sit there as long as you want.

But the decision to not return your cart affects other people.

Yesterday I posted this picture on Facebook.

Yeah. I got a fucking t-shirt.

It’s kind of a joke.

But not really.

Someone commented when I posted that picture,

You do realize that is actually someone’s job to go get them? Hello? Wow!

Real world problems….

Hmmmmm…..

Ummmmm… HELLO. WOW.

This is a real world problem.

And people who believe it’s not their responsibility to return their carts are at the root of it. Forget the obesity epidemic that we have going on.

We have an epidemic of people not thinking about other people. Of people only out for themselves. Of people not taking care of the planet, and of people not taking care of other people.

And yes. I believe that as human beings, we have an obligation to look out for other people.

Another woman said,

I blame the grocery stores. They are the lazy ones.

What. The fuck.

REALLY???

PEOPLE.  The reason grocery stores had to start hiring more employees to return the carts is because so many people stopped returning them. It wasn’t always a thing.

This is a new thing. A holy-shit-people-are-lazy-slobs thing.

I asked my 71-year-old mom if I was off base. I asked her if, back in the day, she never had to return her cart. If people followed her around like she was Queen Elizabeth, just waiting to clean up after her.

I knew what the answer was.

No. They didn’t.

Sure, stores need to send someone out to the cart corral to collect the carts every so often. But those people shouldn’t have to walk all around the parking lot continuously for eight hours a day because people are fucking self-centered and lazy.

Oh yeah. I called all you non-cart returners self-centered and lazy.

Then there was this woman:

I can see how grocery carts are priority since all important issues on the planet have been solved.

No, this isn’t murder. It’s not cancer. It’s not terrorism. It’s not child abuse or sexual assault or suicide.

But (in)equality and hate crimes and bigotry and the lack of treating people with basic human decency are issues in this country. So is bullying. Entitlement. And not the desire, but the exponentially growing demand for instant gratification.

It’s disturbing.

And yes.

I think those are MAJOR issues that are at the root of many of our society’s problems right now.

And while returning your cart isn’t anything close to bullying, it’s thoughtless. It’s rude. It’s inconsiderate. And it’s symptomatic of a much larger societal problem.

But those are also things we can change. Right now.

We may not have the cure for cancer.

We may not have the solution to end terrorism.

But these are basic kindergarten principles.

Have respect for your surroundings. Have respect for other people. Put things back where you found them. Clean your shit up. And don’t be an asshole.

Peoples’ refusal to return their carts takes up dozens of parking spaces.

It puts dents and scratches in cars.

By needing to hire people to clean up after you, it ultimately results in higher prices at the grocery store.

It is also indicative of a larger fundamental issue.

That you really just don’t give a fuck.

And yeah.

I think not giving a fuck is a pretty big world problem.

Lucky for you, you have the power to change that.

One shopping cart at a time.

 

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