As I watched a parent explaining that their child was over-tired to excuse the fact that he had just hit someone, I realized that sometimes we get so focused on a child’s needs, that we forget that we can still hold someone accountable while still showing understanding for what that person is experiencing.
What message does this child take away from this experience? That his needs trump everyone else’s? That it’s okay to hurt others as long as you have a good reason?
I’ve certainly done my share of ignoring poor behaviour – rolling eyes, a slammed door, chores not done quite to my standards. There are some things that are simply not worth the fight.
But when it comes to the things that count, we can’t let them go. The things that count – our most valued beliefs – form our bottom-lines. I cannot stand by and allow a person to physically hurt or blatantly disrespect another person. I can understand the urge to strike someone, but I cannot condone it.
A phrase I’ve found really helpful in these situations is “I’m not helping you if I let you…” It might seems like we are giving a kid a break by not calling them on bottom-line behaviour, but the truth is that turning a blind eye is not doing a kid any favours. In the end, allowing people to be self-centered, violent, or mean is not going to help them build relationships and skills that they will need to live a happy and healthy life.
I can understand that a child is angry, tired, or lacking the skill to manage a situation – but I’m not helping if I don’t teach them that there are some things that are so important, we can never allow them to go unaddressed.