Kids often see their parents as invincible. Often stubborn and strict, they’re the epitome of doing things right, or at least they seem so until some point in adolescence when we finally start developing our independent take on things we carry throughout life.
But it turns out, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Parents are no strangers to embarrassing screwups, and in fact, while raising you, have experienced a very solid share of them. “What are your parenting fails?” one dad tweeted, stirring a confessionary thread full of hilarious stories from moms and dads.
From whooping your son like ‘a fun dad’ only to realize it was not your kid to teaching your child the art of tossing a pancake that ended with him taking a hit from the pan, parents are far from perfect, but hey, who is, really?
Bored Panda reached out to Kimberly Koljat, a licensed marriage and family therapist who shared a couple of very important and interesting insights on what children take on from adults, and how we can never underestimate their understanding about the world.
“Children are immensely observant, and pick up on cues from caregivers and significant support individuals in their lives. Young children’s main need in life is attunement, which is why we, as adults in their lives, have a very important role of co-regulating children and being emotionally congruent models for them,” Kimberly explained.
For example, according to the licensed family therapist, children often know when their parents are divorcing long before parents believe them to know. And it’s “not because they 'overheard' them talking about it, but because of emotional cues leading up to the event of separation.”
Kimberly also said that one of the biggest skill sets we can offer children in their development is helping them expand their emotional literacy. “As adults, we assume that means we teach them words to express how they feel, but that is only one way of knowing. Children are communicating and learning through their other ways of knowing—verbally, kinesthetically, visually.”
It’s crucial to help them understand more complex emotions and the important skill of empathy, like “the four basic feelings of mad, sad, glad, and afraid” that “are just the start.” Kimberly explained: “Brene Brown has a wonderful animated video on YouTube on empathy that can help adults and children alike understand how to practice this skill that fosters understanding, equality, and kindness. Modeling for children and youth the importance of empathy, understanding difference doesn’t mean 'wrong,' and learning to tolerate what may be experienced as frustration can be important skill sets to build with the children in their lives.”
Kimberly also said it is true adults often underestimate children’s capability of understanding the world around them. It turns out, “it can even have a negative impact on children and their sense of self.”
“In some cases this may reinforce the belief that their thoughts or beliefs are not to be trusted or invalid, which later creates difficulty in setting boundaries, making decisions, or maintaining a positive sense of self,” the family therapist concluded.