Limiting our children’s choices, disregarding their rights and enforcing arbitrary rules through rewards and punishments creates frustration, anger and discontent.
Perpetuating the myth that life is cruel and hard promotes a mind-set of scarcity and desperation, and skews our natural tendencies towards cooperation and connection.
Fear, competition and self-obsession become the drivers by which we strive to get our needs met.
The more messages that our children receive that they cannot be trusted, that they must be constrained and controlled for their own good, the more likely they are to internalise this and begin to distrust themselves and everyone around them.
In essence we create a self-fulfilling prophecy, a culture of fear and distrust and a tolerance for hardship, cruelty and oppression.
Becoming comfortable with negative and pessimistic views of human nature, of life and of the future, can chip away at our capacity to challenge, to envisage change, and to work together.
Yet by supporting our children to get their needs met, treating them with respect and acknowledging and upholding their rights as people, rather than using their age and stage of life as an excuse to disregard these, we provide a space for them to discover and appreciate their connection to others.
Experiencing kindness, developing a sense of abundance and a healthy regard and recognition for meeting their own needs promotes understanding, empathy and compassion, empowering and enabling them to recognise and respect the needs of others.
By cultivating a culture of kindness and respect in our relationships with our children and in our homes, we are in a very real and practical sense promoting a culture of kindness and respect in the world.
Children whose needs have been respected and have been supported to meet these needs develop a sense of self-worth and acceptance, they value themselves and others.
These are the children who will be less likely to tolerate cruelty and brutality in their personal relationships and in the wider world.
These are the children who will ‘make the world a little less cruel and heartless’.