Parenting | Avoiding the judgment trap

These days I am reading the book “Your Child’s Self-Esteem” by Dorothy Corkille Briggs.  I am still in the process of reading and plan to finish it by next week.   As a mom, I often got gusts of guilty feelings along reading since many of the inappropriate examples seem talking about me.  That proves this books is very worthy reading.  It pin-points the usual questions of each parent face and give step-by-step solutions to build your children’s self-esteem.  I plan to read this book in a way to read a school textbook and prepare school exams.  In this way, I’ll understand and absorb the content better, in hope to put the theories into my daily parenting practice. While reading along, I’ll exert some chapters or examples in this blog for self- examination, and also for sharing.

Avoiding the judgment trap

(Page 65)

Parents are constantly advised to spend more time with children.  Yet, it is the quality of time and not the quantity that affects the feeling of being loved.  Mr. H spends hours with his youngsters, working with them on projects and games. On the surface the time spent looks like proof of devotion.  But when you observe, you hear a flow of comments like these:

“Stop dawdling over your turn, Jimmy. Get going!”
“You’re not holding that saw right.  How many times have I told you to hold it this way?”
“Why can’t pitch that ball the way your brother does? When will you learn to throw from your shoulder?”
“You’ve messed up this paint job.  Here, let me do it. For Pete’s sake, this time watch me. If you’re going to do something, do it right!”
The hours with his youngsters are filled with criticisms, lack of respect, comparisons, and high demands.  The more time his children spend with him, the less adequate and lovable they feel.  Sheer time does not necessarily add up to love.

(Page 86-87)

To avoid judgments, tell your youngsters what is going on inside you without using labels.
The labeling words — adjectives and nouns that describe a person — are the ones that cause trouble. Words like “dawdler,” “messy,” “procrastinator,” “sloppy,” “rude,” “mean,” “selfish,” “naughty,” “nice,” “good,” “bad,” “shameful,” and so on are judgmental by nature.  Such labels have no place in the vocabulary of nurturing adults.
In general, using “You,” and following it by a noun  or adjective describing the child, sends a judgment.  Ordinarily, “I,” followed by what is going on inside you, sends a reaction toward behavior.  Let’s look again at some messages send first as judgments, and then as reactions.
 Judgement_reaction
Self-application
1) Stop nagging.  Kids are kids.  They develops according to their growth path.  It’s not fair to treat them as perfect figures, or as mature adults.  Honestly speaking, how mature an adult is?  I am in my late 30’s, but still in the process of self-improvement.  Be aware of any words coming out of a parent’s mouth.  Examine them before shooting them out of mouth.  If the words are not positive or productive, the parent and kids would be better off if the parent shuts up.  Sometimes, kids performs something improper in the parents’ eyes, they make funny noises or gestures in public, they go to scrutinize the flowers on the road side while you are rushing to somewhere, they refuses to cooperate to your request in face of your friends.  If they are not big issues, just live with them.  Only if you understand and tolerate their trivial childish words and actions, will you find the virtue of your kids, and will you enjoy every minutes spent with your kids.
2) Practice nonjudgment.  Use “I-reaction” — “I,” followed by what is going on inside you, sends a reaction toward behavior. Learning to suspend judgment is far from easy, because most of us have spent a lifetime being judged ourselves.  Below is one excise I did for my situation:-
“You are such a picky eater.” –>> “I am worried you don’t have enough energy to play ball later.”  “I really hope you can try this new food.”  “I feel so happy you like this pie.”
3) Treat the kids as friends.  Parents sometimes act as if kids don’t have feelings because they ignore their existence and discuss their kids’ shortcomings publicly in front of the kids.
In the book one page 90, the author wrote,
Ask yourself this question: “If I were to treat my friends as I treat my children, how many friends would I have left?”  Few of us would think of shaming or analyzing friends in front of others, jerking them up short with sarcasm, humiliating, embarrassing, hitting, or ordering them about like soldiers under our command.  Of course not.
A child is no less sensitive because of his size.  Disrespect always encrusts caring so that it can’t be felt.
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