If there is one lesson adults need to teach children it is the idea that they don’t always get what they want. Disappointments throughout life are inevitable, so the more we can help children understand this concept when they are young, the better. Sadly, some very well-intentioned adults don’t always see how their parenting or discipline styles works against this concept.
On my plane ride to North Dakota this week I sat in front of a precocious and active preschooler and his mother. Right away I noticed how focused she was on her son, working hard to both educate and entertain him. Unfortunately, the many toys and electronic devices only appeased the child for a few minutes. Matchbox cars and helicopters rolled up and down the main isle, intermittent screams of joy and frustration echoed through the cabin, and the sounds of fists banging on the tray tables pretty much summed up the journey. [God bless the patient and understanding lady sitting next to me, as she got the brunt of the chair banging, taking it all in stride.]
It was obvious this mom really cared about her child, as evidenced by the time she took with him, pointing out letters, numbers and sounds. My concern was that she was not providing any behavioral boundaries. I’m confident her son will have advanced vocabulary, and no doubt have every ounce of his cognitive intelligence nurtured. However, I also feel certain accepting disappointment might be a real challenge for him. For as we all know – if kids don’t have practice accepting boundaries and limitations when they are young, they will really struggle with doing the same once they get older. So my advice? Mom, do your child [and the rest of us travelers] a favor, and when appropriate just say “no”.