“But mummy we’re not allowed to say that”
I’d just told my daughter to tell her mate to “f..k off.”
Don’t judge me, I’m a mother of 5, and I have no time for bullshit.
Every day this year on the drive home from school, we run through the same scenario.
There are tears and complaints until we get home, it’s become so bad I’ve started to dread the school run.
“So and so said I couldn’t play”
“I just wanted to play with such and such and so and so wouldn’t let us play.”
“She said I was ugly.”
“So and So wouldn’t talk to me all day and I don’t know why.”
One of my kids is a boy, boys have a punch up, and the drama is done.
Girls, well they’re a different kettle of fish, the head games and the drama are exhausting. I have 4 girls currently attending the same school, I hope you can forgive me for speaking candidly!
I have a memory of an exercise we did in class when I was a teen.
We had to write down the positive qualities each of our classmates had on a piece of paper. At the end of the exercise, we had a list of admirable characteristics that others saw in us.
My characteristics read like this: Kind, easygoing, friendly, peacemaker, loyal.
Gah, I thought I was so BORING!
Now I’m a parent, my children are my most exceptional testimony.
One behaviour I uphold is kindness toward others.
Bringing positivity and light to another persons’ day with a small gesture is easy, and It always makes you feel good when you make someone else feel good. I try to teach my kids to look out for the underdog and think about how others may be feeling.
But I’m fearful I’ve turned them into little meek and mild pushovers. It seems they’re kind at their own expense, they’ll do what anyone tells them to do.
I’ll be honest and say that assertiveness is a behaviour that I am struggling to teach my children. I fear I’ve failed at teaching them when to be kind and empathetic, and when to set boundaries.
Emotional intelligence is a quality that is highly regarded. If my children are to be successful adults, they’ll need to know when to be kind, and when to tell someone to “f..k off” or should I say be assertive in an appropriate manner (turns out telling someone to “f..k off” is assertive in an aggressive way, not really encouraged at school).
Ironically it’s my children that have turned me into an assertive person.
They’re always pushing my buttons, testing the boundaries.
Every day is a battle to keep them in line. (there are 5 of the suckers if one rebels it would spell disaster).
And I promise I never tell them to F..K off…much.
I am a strict parent, my kids do as they are told or they face the consequences.
But is there a downside to being too tough on your children? Is there such a thing as being too compliant? Is this transferring into their relationships with their peers? If they suppress their feelings, will they turn into passive-aggressive adults? (another not so good form of assertiveness).
Am I overthinking this?
Self doubt when raising children is REAL!
Being a naturally curious eager to learn person, I decided to have a chat with a few teachers.
4 To be exact. The first, my mother, a Masters Degree and super intelligent. She helpfully pointed out that I’m only hearing one side of the story, and that my kids are no angels. Thanks, Mum.
Next, I approached two teachers at school, I came out with it straight away
“look I’m getting sick of all the tears, tales and drama, I’ve told my child that next time it happens just tell that person to ‘f..k off.’
To their credit, they laughed, coughed, shuffled a little, looked at each other and then said, ‘yeah we can’t really have kids talking like that at school, but if it’s a situation were a good kid has been pushed too far we might turn a blind eye.”
Then I had a chat with my sister, a secondary school teacher “Anna you have 5 kids, every day at home they’re learning the skills of saying no and having their voices heard”
Bang, light bulb moment for me.
There are a million opportunities to teach my kids life skills. The arguing! It’s constant, so much so sometimes I want to claw my eyeballs out!
I am going to teach them the art of skilful negotiation instead of crying and whinging.
It wasn’t long before the first opportunity presented itself. In the car, (it’s always in the car when you can’t get away from them).
An argument erupted between the 3rd and 4th child.
There’s a 2 1/2 year age gap between them, the older relentlessly teases the younger, and the younger bites everytime.
“Selina said I only read one page of my book and I didn’t, I read two!” (tears, crying and whining)
I stepped in with my tactics
“Think about this Pearl, what’s Selina trying to achieve”
“Well I think she might be trying to annoy you, what would you like to have happen?”
“I think maybe you don’t want to let her know she’s getting to you, how do you think you can make that work?”
“Maybe you should pretend she’s not there”
Silence, followed by screams of disgust.
“Muuuuuummmmmm Pearl just picked her nose and the dandruff off her head and wiped it on my face.”
I guess that was assertive?
I see I have alot of work ahead of me.
Any tips on teaching children negotiation tactics?
Also, keep in mind, I still need to remain in control at all times, I can’t be outsmarted.