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Martial Arts in Bradenton

Giving Your Child Too Much Agency

I have a friend, Bob who has been teaching in the Colorado State public school system for over 30 years. I enjoy every moment I get with him and always learn something. Today we got to sit and chat for the first time in a long time. We both discussed some of the changes we have seen in the kids in just the last 2 years.

He spoke about one kid in his class, He says there are 3 like this in his classes, but he detailed one event. A 12 year old consistently and continually disrupting class and making it impossible for him to teach. The child was belligerent and horribly behaved, using vulgarity and trying to bully everyone. “you can’t make me stop what I’m doing, you can’t touch me so there is nothing you can do about it.”

Bob called the office and then the resource officer (who can physically remove a student). The kid will be back, this is a public school. Because I work in the private sector, I have an advantage. I don’t have to take the entitled and spoiled child. I will however, because I can help, but I won’t keep them if the parent tries to undo everything we are doing to help.

All teachers, everywhere, prefer to use redirection and positive reinforcement to help students. We go through an exorbitant amount of training to be talented at doing this. However, when in a situation like this, those choices are past being effective. Serious consequences for the child’s actions must now be followed through upon. Unfortunately, sending a kid home to an environment where they have been allowed to do whatever they want, say whatever they want and behave any way they want means that no changes are going to happen for a very long time, or forever.

The time will come for that child, and he isn’t really to blame. I am old, and have seen this enough to know. Here are the probable future events…

  • He will drop out of school because he doesn’t believe anyone can or should tell him anything.
  • He will not move out because why should he, when he’s king at home.
  • He will not be able to keep a job because he doesn’t think anyone can or should tell him what to do.
  • He doesn’t believe anyone can possibly know something he doesn’t know and how dare they think that they do, or even think that this makes them better than him.
  • He will burn through relationships, never able to compromise and make relationships work.
  • He will seek other means of coping with the horrible events of his life through substance abuse.
  • He will blame others for everything and never admit that his problems are actually his problems.
  • He will end up being the same type of neglectful and abusive parent. Yes, it is abuse.

He’s not wrong in blaming someone else, all of this happened because someone made the conscious decision not to be a parent.

I know you love your child, but being their friend is not your job. You have let them make decisions, but the wrong ones. They are not qualified to make big decisions, if they were, we would make the age of adulthood age 6, not 18. They can choose between broccoli or spinach, but they can’t choose to not eat vegetables. They can choose to take their bath before or after dinner, but they can’t choose to not bathe. They can brush their teeth before they lay their clothes out for tomorrow or after, but they can’t choose to not brush their teeth. Giving them the right to make these decisions empowers them and builds confidence.

However, not reprimanding, not redirecting, not setting consequences, not getting angry when they are bad, and not providing structure says something very profound to your child. It says, “You are not important enough for me to really care, react to or correct.”

This is what their subconscious hears, and it is why they misbehave. It is why they disobey you and argue with you. It is why they disrupt classes. It is why they drink and do drugs and get in so much trouble. When a child misbehaves like this, I hear them saying something. What I hear them saying is “Please someone care enough about me to hold me accountable and actually discipline me!”

When I correct a student, I make sure to build their confidence before and after I correct. I make sure the correction is sincere and specific so they know I am trying to help, so they know they aren’t doing it right and so they know they can do it better if they try. This way they know that I really care, and they know that they actually matter to me.

“Gabe, that roundhouse kick is getting stronger, but we’ve got to flex the foot the right way and pivot to show real expertise and to have control over where we put the kick. Try again. Not quite, try again and get that foot flexed. Ok, give me one more and really make that foot on the ground pivot 135 degrees. There you go, that’s better. Notice how much better the kick was? Give me a high five, now you are looking like warrior.” He didn’t get away with doing it wrong and felt impowered by doing it the right way.

Parents, I know it’s hard, you’ve got your own personal interests and career and goals and kids get in the way of all that. The thing you’ve got to do is to recognize that none of that matters any longer. This is the most important job you will ever do and the most dangerous. I’m sure Hitler’s mom thought she was doing a good job.

If you do everything right, you will never have to punish, you will never have to raise your voice, but when the situation calls for it, if you don’t hold punish and raise your voice, if you don’t hold them accountable, if you don’t have consequences, if you don’t show passion, then you are showing that you just don’t care. If you say you are going to punish them, but then you don’t, you are telling them that you cannot be trusted.

Parent strong.

TLDR: Not having or following through with consequences with your child programs their subconscious that no one cares.

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