Friday, July 15, 2011

Kids don't automatically know

I kind of had a mini revelation yesterday, and while some of you will probably read this and think I'm stupid that this concept just now occurred to me, perhaps a few of you will read it and apply it to a situation with your kiddos.
Kids don't have common sense like we do.
Nor do they automatically know what our expectations are, unless we explicitly tell them.

And I'm not just talking about babies and things like not touching the stove and electrical outlet safety.

I'm actually talking about situations with Kaylee, my 8 year old. I hate to admit it, but on days that my patience isn't at it's usual all-star high level (ha!) it's very easy for me to get frustrated with her .... for things that she doesn't already know! (which obviously isn't very fair)

Case in point:
Lately, her and two little neighborhood girls have been playing in our yard all day, every day. And as all kids do, they go through a lot of drinks and snacks throughout the day. I went outside today to find juice spilled on the driveway and popcorn crumbs on the porch. I was annoyed, and I immediately snapped at her that it wasn't ok to have stuff spilled everywhere and that she needed to get it cleaned up right away.

She did as she was told, of course, but a few minutes later, I stopped and thought about the situation.

I wasn't happy with the spilled juice and food because I knew it would attract ants and other yucky bugs.

At the ripe old age of 8, Kaylee doesn't really realize that. Nor had I told her my expectations regarding having snacks outside.

And had I stopped and explained the situation to her, and why we don't want the crumbs and spills, she would have understood. And then it would be something that she would know for next time.

Instead, all she knows was that I snapped at her, and was probably wondering why those crumbs warranted mom getting upset at her.

So, boys and girls, the moral of the story is to take the time to talk to your kids. I know we all want our kids to obey, without questioning our motives, but taking the time to explain our motives and reasoning really does make a difference.


  1. I have so done this time and time again. I get frustrated and snap. and then go back and think wait a minute. I've really started over explaining things to the boys. LOL sometimes I think they roll their eyes at me and go ok mom, sure, whatever can we go now? I swear I have mini Teenagers, I can't imagine what its going to be like.

  2. That's definitely great's hard to take the time to explain why. I hope I can remember that when mine gets older!

  3. we don't have kids yet, but i know this will be something i struggle with when we do. patience and communication are so hard but so important in all relationships!

  4. I know I've done it with Kayla and then afterwards I think, she is probably wondering why I yelled like that. Most of the time I explain why she shouldn't do something. It's something I learned a long time ago works well with her. But we all have our moments as moms. (And juice and crumbs is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, haha.)

  5. Dang, I was really planning on raising to kid to have blind military-level obedience. :) I'm constantly trying to reason with the baby about how when she throws her food to the dog, that makes the dog chunky. So far, no connection. :)

  6. Thanks for the great advice, I know my lil man in still a lil small, but its never to late to start! Ive tried catching up with your posts looks like you guys are having a great summer!!!

  7. I don't think you're stupid for just realizing this at all, fyi. For one, this doesn't only apply to kids. It applies to all people of all ages. Sometimes I think people (mostly M) can read my mind or understand what I mean when I say something. He can't. So I need to start stopping and thinking and explaining. Hope you have a fantastic weekend, Megan!

  8. i read a good article about this several years ago, but it's good to have a reminder.

    the article talked about discussing expectations of behavior before a new experience. just telling your kid to "be good" means very different things depending on the situation-say church or the playground. so you have to tell them the behaviors you expect for "being good".

    i still struggle when my boys make loud observations that they don't realize are rude. like ben at the endocrinologist's office-"there are a lot of really big people in this room." cringe.

  9. My husband and I have thought a lot about discipline and how we're going to handle it as our kiddo gets older (he's 18 months). Whenever we redirect him, we always try to give him reasons in simple language. We also try to key him in on the feelings of the people he's doing things to ("Don't pull hair hair. It hurts. Mommy is sad when you hurt her," etc.) But I imagine that it is frustrating as they get older because they pick up so much and you're not even sure where they got it. You don't know what they've learned by osmosis, at school, etc. But yes, remembering that kids don't automatically know is key!

  10. Ha I'll try to remember this as Madelin gets older. Oh, by the way, I thought (just for second) that the picture of the baby and the screwdriver was yours! Then I looked again...knew you wouldn't let one of your do that. If ya have time click on over to mine and let me know if you have any suggestions. They would be greatly appreciated.

  11. I don't think that's an obvious thing! But definitely a great thought to keep in mind with parenting. Isn't it great that you get to help Kaylee learn common sense? :)

  12. This is a great post! I think it's important to find the balance between explaining why kids are asked to do something but also them trusting their parents and obeying even if there isn't an explanation sometimes!

  13. Love this! So true!! I really appreciate this makes sense and sounds like something I should try when dealing with my kiddos. Sometimes I forgot that they don't have the common sense skills that I (sometimes) do. :)

  14. Great post Megan. THANKS!!! I really needed this.

  15. One of the things that amazed me most as a new mother was how my child had to learn EVERYTHING. From focusing on objects across the room to using his hands, it seemed like there was nothing he knew how to do.

    This is such a good reminder to keep teaching him as he grows!

  16. Hi Megan --

    I think I'm finally ready to get back up to speed with the blogs, so I'm glad to be catching up on yours!

    I think you're totally right about spelling out expectations, and -- honestly -- I think the same is true for adults. Sure, they may not need as much in the way of explanation like "spilled crumbs will make bugs come," but I think too often we expect people to be psychic and know what we want, and then they don't. So good life lesson, and great reminder for all of us!



  17. It is so hard not to snap sometimes when we forget that they are not aware of the situation. I think it's a lesson in progress for both us and them.

  18. Oh Megan, I have SO been there. I always feel terrible after because of course my 2 year old doesn't understand. It's just part of being a parent. I always try to breathe and step back and say if I could do that over again, what would I do differently and I'd do exactly what you would do, talk to them and explain. Oh and I pray for patience.....EVERY DAY.

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