Actively Welcome Questioning

 “In my experience, most parents sincerely want their children to be assertive, independent thinkers who are unafraid to stand their ground … with their peers. When a child demonstrates the identical sort of courage in interactions with them it is a different story! The truth is if we want children to be able to resist peer pressure and grow into principled and brave adults, we have to actively welcome their questioning and being assertive with us.”

Alfie Kohn, The Myth Of The Spoilt Child

The point of this quote is not for your child(ren) to question your authority over them, but for them to be able to freely ask questions of you (or their teacher, coach, etc.), the authority figure, about your decisions and instructions. Not to sass, buck, or oppose, but to understand (or help you understand) why and if it’s the best decision …. as opposed to “shut up and do what I say because I’m the boss.”

myth of spoilt child
One of the things I’ve noticed is that if a person doesn’t know why a rule or law is in place, and what the overall consequences are – to themselves and people that could be hurt – they’re less likely to follow it. Knowing generally makes people more agreeable, because they see the logic and necessity of it, even if they don’t like it.

On the other hand, those who don’t know why and/or only know that there is a punishment if they don’t, are more likely to explore the “why” in a negative and harmful way. People don’t want to be controlled. People like to be a willing participant.

It upsets me, when I see an “F-You” attitude and/or mistrust toward authority (“except for mine”) being taught. I personally witnessed an incident where the grandmother was teaching that disrespect toward the parents. The child (about 2.5 – 3 yo at the time) wanted candy as the Mom was setting the table to lay out supper. Mom said, “No. We’re about to have supper.” She turned and walked back to the kitchen. Behind her back, the grandmother gave the child a piece of candy and then stuck her tongue out at the mother. The look on that kid’s face – the understanding of the defiance and lack of respect … I just about smacked that woman for destroying the mom’s authority and I certainly don’t let her my children.


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