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Taking Their Behaviour Personally

Andrea Ramsay Speers - Thursday, May 16, 2013

Raise your hand if you've ever felt personally responsible for something your child has done.  We have some laws in Ontario that make a parent legally responsible for their child's behaviour, in some cases, but I'm talking more about the run-of-the-mill, everyday behaviour we see in kids.

If your kid has never written a thank you note -- or even bothered to say thank you at all – or said hello back when greeted by an adult, or commented tactfully when asked for an opinion, you know what I'm talking about.  As parents, we see our kids as a reflection of ourselves, and their poor behaviour a reflection of not only our parenting skills but us as people as well.

The thing is, we can't control our kids.  Sure, we can put limits and boundaries on their behaviour to a certain degree, but at the end of the day, they are independent, free thinking beings...which, really, is exactly what we want them to be. 

So the next time you want to crawl into a hole at your child’s embarrassing behaviour, remind yourself that YOU have nothing to be embarrassed about.  She is just experimenting with ways of being in the world, and you don't need to worry about taking ownership of her behaviour, because we can only be responsible for ourselves.  If we have done our part, they'll catch up eventually.  The only question you need to ask yourself is, how is my behaviour in relation to their behaviour?  Am I providing correction or education where it is needed, or am I wasting time worrying about what others may be thinking of me and my skills as a parent?  If we're doing our part, then we can sleep easy at night. 

We worry about being judged, but the reality is that we are our own harshest critic.  The truth is that most parents are sympathetic because they've been there, too.  We're all in this together, and frankly, social niceties are something we grow into – even though it’s painful to watch sometimes, kids will be kids. 

Don't worry. Keep setting a good example, provide instruction and correction when needed, and don’t let it get you down..

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Andrea Ramsay Speers • Psychotherapist & Parent Coach • Oakville Family Institute • 175 Glenashton Dr., Oakville ON • Tel.: 905-491-6949

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