I have realized that self-worth is an important trait to have right from childhood. It is very confusing as to what the line of self-worth is and how one must judge it, because it could be looked upon as talking back to an adult. Sometimes as a parent you get carried away by the norms in society.
What I mean by norms is cultural norms – in Indian culture it is a general practice to treat others’ children as your own. I have seen my mother feeding my friends just like she would feed me or caring for them. Even at those times there were people who treated their children as ‘special’ as compared to others’ kids. Today this has become increasingly the case.
I have seen friends and acquaintances cater to every whim of their own child but quick to correct yours. Although I was brought up to respect all elders, whatever they do, I think it is time to change that while bringing up my kids.
I don’t think it is ever okay to reprimand a child as if he is your own. The best thing to do is to talk to the concerned parent.
It’s a great attribute to respect elders but sometimes your child sees through some grown ups more than you. Listen to your child ! When s/he has experienced disrespect, teach the child that it is not okay and that no one can just walk over them.
As Indians, we are somehow culturally okay with some quirks . I got caught up in it for a while. I have felt it is okay for other people to give unwarranted and unsolicited opinions to my child and I would take care of it later. But I realized recently that it is not taken well when you try to do the same while those same people do give random opinions to my kids all the time!
I think respecting people – younger or older is a very important quality to have. That quality develops only when we learn to respect ourselves, because only then we can treat others with respect. Kids look up to us, observe us and mimic us, both intentionally and unintentionally. So it is really important to teach them to be discerning of acceptable behaviour.
Most of these incidents occur when the parents are not around or not paying attention in a group. So when the child reports such an incident, it is pertinent to point out at that instance that X, Y,or Z adult’s behaviour was unacceptable and to listen to whatever the child has to say. Remind your child that while such grown ups are disappointing but they should never react in kind.
By doing this we teach them two things that their self-respect does not depend on how other people treat them and secondly, they can be kind with such adults and not react to them badly. We could even encourage them to tell the adult, “You could talk to my mom or dad”. Your child may be young, but s/he is never too young to learn self respect and kindness.
Grown-ups aren’t always right, and as Indians we tend to give a lot of importance to the age of a person. But I emphasize, it is not okay for anyone to reprimand your child when you are around.
Here I would like to point out that people from American culture have a very different approach, which I would like to endorse. You will see strangers being more restrained in how they behave with kids they don’t know.
I have noticed the difference when we were in different situations. When we go to Indian gatherings , I have seen my kids being reprimanded by others. I am personally okay with someone saying a polite “no” ,but not when they decide to scold my child and disrespect them.
When we have our American friends over, I see how they respond in a very similar situation. It’s always ” Don’t you think this is a better way ?” or “Can you please talk to your mom about it and let me know?” It gives me and my child our own private way to deal with an incident without making it an event in itself. Also the manner in which they speak is respectful and polite.
This is something that I would like my child to learn; to be respectful and polite, which comes from a strong sense of self-worth.