Authentic Parent Newsletter, Sep. 2012

Date: 9/7/2012, 6:12 PM

Reflections on: We teach children by the way we treat them.

A mother asked me what to do when her child says, “I don’t have to listen

to you.” She has instructed the child to do his singing elsewhere and not

in the living room where the guests (children and adults) were hanging out.

“A very assertive child,” I said. “How did he learn about not listening?”

The mother had enough sessions with me to know that there is no guilt or

blame in recognizing her own responsibility so my words got her laughing.

It did not take her long to realize that this is a clear mirror of her own

behavior towards the child. In fact, she realized that telling him to sing

in another room was the same as telling him, literally, “We don’t have to

listen to you.” The child wanted to share his song with his guests. His

words were a direct mirror of his mother’s.

We often teach not to listen, by not listening to the baby or child. The

baby wants to stay awake and we put her to sleep. She wants to breastfeed

and we try to distract her instead. She wants to stay on mom’s body, and we

coerce her away from her wish. In all these situations we are saying, “I

won’t listen to you.”

Likewise, if grandma tries to kiss and hug the child against his will and

we say, “Give grandma and hug,” we don’t listen to the child’s valid and

autonomous choice. When the child won’t share and we suggest nicely to

share, we refuse to listen to him. When he would rather stay with mom and

we say, “You will be fine with aunt Lucy... or at a school or day care”

etc... In our refusal to listen to the child we teach, “I don’t have to

listen to you.”

There are many other behaviors that we, unknowingly, teach children every

day and then regret it. With best of intention, we forget that the child is

always doing the best she can with the tools we have given her. This is not

a reason to feel guilty, only to feel empowered with this new tool.

Your child gives you back what she is actually experiencing. This is not

about blaming yourself. It is simply a way to detect how your child learned

something so you can change your teaching curriculum if you so wish.

The most common phrase, “I told her so many times, why does she keep doing

it,” is your wake up call. You have taught her something else so many

times; something louder than your words. If you find how the learning

occured, you can solve the problem very fast and easy.

With love,


Naomi Aldort

Author, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

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