I am a parent of a young girl.  She’s spirited, she tests us all the time, and yes, she can be mouthy.  But she is not out of control.  Never, in the almost six years I have been her mother, have I torn my hair out or moaned about how “I just don’t know what to do about her!”

I have a lot of friends who are mothers.  Many of them are constantly stressed out because their young child simply won’t do as they’re told.  A lot of advice is given, books and articles recommended.  The piece of advice that probably irks me the absolute most is this one:  If your child is misbehaving, get down on their level and …xyz.

Get down on their level.  Let’s review for a moment.  Who are you?  The parent, right?  The adult.  And who are they?  The young person who needs guidance about how best to behave.  The child.

Why are we being told that we need to get down to their level?  The child is testing us, testing their limits, testing to see how far they can go before they are finally stopped from misbehaving.  We are the parents, the authority figure, the one who will train them on how to be the best person that they can be.  We have to guide them on how to function in a normal society.  Why oh why, are we being told that to accomplish this we must go down to their level?  A boss is not going to come down to the employees’ level to instruct them.  A police officer will not come down to the criminals’ level to question them.  In life, when you do something wrong, the authority figure will not be calmly crouching down to your level and gently admonishing you.  Why, then, are we assuming that squatting down to the level of a three-year-old and just telling them that they should not do X because Y is actually accomplishing anything?

The moment that the parent reduces themselves to the level of the child, the child knows that they have the upper hand.  They. Have. Won.

I know that the “get down to their level” is a popular parenting idea in the new “don’t hurt their feelings, don’t thwart their enthusiasm at all costs” age.  When did parents lose their authority?  When did the child become the one to whom the parents must stoop?

Parenting experts insist that getting down on the child’s level makes the correction less intimidating, less scary – something that their sensitive minds can be receptive to.  I ask this:  since when are children suddenly so fragile and easily broken?  Is standing above a child, asserting parental and adult authority in a non-violent but stern way, really  scarring that child for life??  Really??

Children need structure.  They need authority.  They crave rules, and guidance, and love. They have to have consequences.  Getting down on their level for a little talk provides none of these things.  Getting down on their level simply shows them that they are the ones in charge.  Stand up to your children.  Don’t address them on your knees; stand before them as a calm, loving, and firm authority figure.



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