Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kid Gloves

Kids are funny.  Sometimes funny-ha-ha, but occasionally funny in a "he obviously gets that from YOUR side of the family" sort of way.  I guess this goes along with that whole "explore the entire world" aspects of childhood growth and development.  The methods a kid chooses to explore their environment are not always logic-based and we know that.  Whatever they are doing makes perfect sense to them at the time, however.  Kids are not bound by our profound awareness of social conventions, and we just have to get over it.

To be fair, children don't necessarily know that what they are saying or doing might be considered odd/destructive/cringeworthy by adults; they're just being kids.  Using a squeeze bottle of mustard to write on the wall is a good idea to a four year old kid because the opening is pointy, just like all those crayons.  Eating that crayon is a good idea to a toddler because the purple ones look just like a grape; in fact, the name of the color happens to be 'grape'. Stripping naked in church because it's crowded and you're hot makes perfect sense to a three year old.  In all of the above examples, the child does not care a whit what anyone else thinks about it at the time.

You want to holler at them when they do these things, of course.  Sometimes you actually start yelling, before you even realize it.  Finding your child in the middle of your makeup kit, drawing a picture on your favorite silk blouse with your fifty dollar Christian Dior lipstick while wearing your most expensive pair of high heels might traumatize even the calmest of parents. Yelling would spontaneously occur in 9 out of ten instances.

Children who are in "happy explorer" mode want to share what they've learned with their parent because they do not see what they've done as 'wrong'.  You see what they've done as wrong because you're viewing their behavior through your own adult filter.  This is very important to remember. I need to remember it, anyway. If we yell at them in these situations of spontaneous creativity,  there may be a cost. 

There isn't a magic light bulb that lights up a toddler's brain with a sign saying "My mother is upset because I have defied some sort of respected social convention".  Yelling at them in these random situations hurts their feelings and scares them.  In some cases, yelling may cause a child to resist creative thinking in the future.  We do not want that creative thinking stifled; we want strong, independent thinkers out there in the work world. 

Back before electricity, when someone needed to be treated with special care, for whatever reason,  it was said that that person should be handled with "kid gloves".  I propose that in future situations, parents, myself included, deal with their children with  'kid gloves'. We must overcome our demands that the world be put together our way, and treat the creative child with special care instead of yelling at them.  This would likely encourage a little wayward behavior, true, but it would also encourage more of the creative thinking that will be needed in the future.  We need to encourage creativity where ever and whenever we can. 

So the next time you find your darling hip deep into the flower pots and covered with dirt and other sediments, take a deep breath and put on your kid gloves. Use those kid gloves to deal with the situation.  Encourage the independent thought, and try to redirect that creativity into more appropriate channels.   After all, the child drawing tyrannosaurs on the wall could be the next Picasso or the next, best, greatest paleontologist to ever live.

And that would be awesome. 


  1. You hit home with this one. Our first was very, um, spirited and it took everything for us to learn how to not yell at him. Our daughter, the explorer and avid learner, makes it hard for us to yell because oh my gosh... DID SHE JUST DRAW DORA ON THE WALL? HONEY, I THINK THAT'S DORA!!! She drew the very likeness of Dora the Explorer on the wall, and I'm sorry... when she's 18 months old our first thoughts were, "BABY GENIUS, CALL GUINNESS." How is it even possible for us to have two extremes? Great post.

  2. My husband and I are currently in a battle of wills over whether or not our boys should be allowed to play in the dirt. On one hand, the dirt they're playing in is supposed to be home to our thi plants. But the dog kept digging them up and now they're dead. So now the boys play with their dump trucks in that area of the yard. Dump-truck land is not the intended purpose of that dirt-spot. But, on the other hand, they stay out of the vegetable garden. They stick to that one, small area. Sometimes they get a bit muddy, but they can be hosed down. The thi plants are already dead, so they aren't doing any damage.

    I say, let them play and I'll put some sort of large, potted plant next to the porch. The dog's likely to dig up anything we plant there, anyway.

    Hubby says he's tired of the boys getting dirty and muddy. I often remind him that he liked playing in the dirt as a kid, too. As did I. Let them play! At least they aren't destroying the inside of my house when they're mudding it up outside!

  3. I remember when my two kids lipsticked my bedroom--walls, bedspread, carpet. Luckily, we all survived. Stopping by from the Challenge. Hope you'll visit back.

  4. Kid gloves are very soft... they speak of a soft touch. Kids will try many things, and we can scold or guide. More scolding makes sense for repeat performances after knowledge is conferred. I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month.

  5. I want to be in happy explorer mode! This is such a fun post!

  6. In our day and politically correct atmosphere, mistakes come at a high cost to many. The natural extension is that parental behavior acts in much the same way. Our every waking moment is spent on 'doing something,' usually in a speedy or easier manner. The result is that our collective frustrations are generally directed at others, especially towards those who are younger and/or weaker than us. This simply should not be.


I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!