Think of your child as a plant who is programmed by nature to grow and blossom. If you see the plant has brown leaves, you consider if maybe it needs more light, more water, more fertilizer. You don’t criticize it and yell at it to straighten up and grow right.
Kids form their view of themselves and the world every day. They need your encouragement to see themselves as good people who are capable of good things. And they need to know you’re on their side. If most of what comes out of your mouth is correction or criticism, they won’t feel good about themselves, and they won’t feel like you’re their ally. You lose your only leverage with them, and they lose something every kid needs: to know they have an adult who thinks the world of them.
– From “Building a Great Relationship with your Child” in Aha! Parenting
On our spring break trip to California, my son rounded up other kids at the hotel pool and played for 4 hours without pause. At the San Diego Botanical Gardens, he climbed up into tangled two-story treehouse and built a shelter out of balsa wood. On one bright morning, he hiked with his grandma and me through the hills at Torrey Pines as Pacific tides lapped at the cliffs.
He also fought, screamed, raged, cried, hit, kicked, and hurled insults. Every single day at every point of conflict, his body went rigid with defiance. He said hateful things. He brought his grandmother and cousin to tears. Me, to worse.