Using fear and guilt to get your children to cooperate is perhaps the most damaging mistake parents can make. Parents don’t realise they are making this mistake until it is too late and their children start experiencing disorders such as anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive behaviours.
“Tom, get off your iPad or you will need glasses! Sally, stop eating cookies, you will get fat!”
Sound familiar? Yes, being on technology too long is bad for your eyes.
And yes, eating too much sugar is bad for your energy levels and weight. But do you know what’s far worse than that physical damage?
The emotional guilt and fear you are dumping on your children. Fear and guilt are a deadly combination of the human spirit.
They crush curiosity, creativity and zest for living a fun boundless life. Physical damage can almost always be reversed with diet and exercise, but emotional damage lasts a lifetime.
It is far more debilitating. Just ask anyone that suffers from anxiety or depression.
Rather than teaching our kids to do things out of love for self, we are teaching them to do things out of fear. Our own fears.
We think we are educating them when in truth we are terrifying them. As parents, we are much more experienced than our children and so we use Google knowledge to make sure that they do not get physically hurt.
But, the one thing children have over us is freedom from future fears. A pure absence of consequential fear, which is a beautiful human state.
Consequential fear is simply this: If you do this wrong now, you will suffer that in the future. Children, however, live in the present, (where we all should live).
But make no mistake, that does not make them stupid. Children from the age of five know how to avoid present and immediate danger.
“But I care for my child, I cannot let them eat junk food and be on technology all day, it is bad for them! I read books on the dangers of sugar. I watched this video on the dangers of social media and technology!”
I get it. I am a parent too. It is difficult.
I am not contemplating you sit and do nothing. But you need to decide which psychology you want to use.
Positive or negative? You need to teach your children to do things out of self-love, not fear.
For example, “If you eat carrots you will have super eyesight”. If we go outside and play soccer you will get big muscles.”
Positive talk like this gets them to do things out of self-love. It builds self-confidence and makes them emotionally solid for life.
Sure they will make mistakes, but they are their mistakes to make and learn from. Don’t rob them of that basic human experience, even if it is painful and makes them vulnerable sometimes. What makes them vulnerable will make them beautiful as they grow older.