Now that my son is 3 1/2 years old, I am starting to understand why the common wisdom in days gone by was “Children should be seen and not heard” and “Children need to know their place.” There are days when it seems like my son never stops talking, never stops asking questions (the kind of questions that go on and on for no particular reason). Or, the kind of questions that make me feel I can’t blink my eyes without my son asking, “What are you doing?”, “What’s that?”, or “Where are you going?”
Part of raising kids is helping them learn how to be respectful, and, frankly, pleasant to be around. And, part of treating someone with respect is understanding how your actions are affecting the other person. In general, I cut my son some slack (he is only three, after all), but there comes a point where I will not accept his nonstop questions or nonstop talking.
Let’s say I had the chance to be in the same room with someone who I felt deserved a lot of respect. For the sake of this example, I’ll pick President Obama. Regardless of whether I’m a big fan of him personally, he is the President and is entitled to respect. Now, how am I going to behave in his presence? Am I going to ask him nonstop questions? Am I going to subject him to my nonstop chatter? Definitely not! To do so would not be showing the President the respect he deserves.
Now, my son is only three, so how can I expect him to have the understanding and self-control of an adult? After all, isn’t it normal for a child this age to talk a lot, and ask a lot of questions?
Well, of course it’s normal. But my point is, there is a difference between normal and acceptable. As parents, we need to remember that it is our job to work with our children’s natural tendencies and compel our children to behave pleasantly. There is a time to shrug our shoulders and say, “Kids will be kids!” (For example, most two-year-olds don’t have the capacity to understand things like sharing.) But there is also a time to say to ourselves, “My child is old enough to start learning how to handle him/herself properly in this situation. Starting today, we are going to work on this particular issue.”
In a future post, I will elaborate on how I deal with my son’s wish to ask nonstop questions.