We need to remember that children are just that; they have an immature prefrontal cortex. They have a developing logical brain that won’t be mostly developed until age 25 by current research standards. The prefrontal cortex is the executive functioning brain that monitors reasoning, judgment, logic , paying attention, planning and impulse control.Therefore, we cannot expect that children act like adults.
When we do, this is called adultism; expecting children to act like adults. Too often parents try to use talking, reasoning and commitment from kids as the main form of parenting. Even if you get them to say that they understand and agree with you, it takes great maturity to have self-control and follow through.
Saying they will do what you want is easy. Having the maturity to stick to one’s word is not easy. Just think how much you have to push yourself to follow through when you don’t want to. This is a very mature habit that I certainly don’t always do.
So reframe your expectations of your children. Realize that children are in the maturation process. Don’t expect children to be responsible like adults hopefully are. With age-appropriate expectations, you can put into play appropriate structure that will increase appropriate behavior. You will then not experience anger from unmet unreasonable expectations. Won’t that make your life happier and easier?
©2014 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.