Friday, September 6, 2013

Why are we looking for comformity in children?

My son is a typical three-year-old. One moment he will be happy and enjoying life to the fullest. The next moment, he will start crying because there are two pieces of sausage on his fork. I get it. All of his emotions are on the surface and he has trouble regulating between the extremes.

As a parent, my job is to help him navigate the various stages of these emotions. I help him label the ones he is feeling and talk him through the ones he doesn't understand. His school takes this same approach and it seems to work really well.

But I know that it won't always be the case. I know that when he enters public school he will need to be equipped with the skills to label his own emotions and act accordingly. This article on self-regulating behaviors on non-conformist children worries me about those who challenge the expectation of self-regulating skills. I remember the "disruptive children" when I was young. They were sent into corners or the principal's office. And I thought of them as trouble. (I wasn't trouble. I was the good child. You're welcome, Mom.)

As a child, I learned to label not only my emotions, but the other children around me. And those labels tended to stick. So how do we fix that pattern? How do we help our children identify behaviors but keep the labels from sticking?

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