My children are very well behaved. They are well-mannered, obedient, and they ‘do as they are told.’ Great right? I’m not so sure.
I became increasingly aware that my kids were blindly following authority and it bothered me. I don’t want my kids to be drones who plod through life, I want them to be thinkers, feelers and do-ers.
I remember years ago being present at an assembly where a decent, church-going, hard-working council member was speaking. He was telling the children to listen to adults and do what they are asked to do. Major alarm bells sounded off in my brain. I was a young, childless teacher at the time, but had worked with enough foster children to know how dangerous that message can be. Why? Because as much as we hope it doesn’t happen, some adults prey on children. They rely on the fact that we are raising very well-behaved, quiet, obedient children who will not stand up against an authoritative figure.
There was a case in America where a whole fast-food restaurant was tricked by a guy on the phone pretending to be a police officer. There was even a movie (Compliance) made about how he managed to manipulate the staff to such a degree that it lead to the abuse of one of the 18-year-old female workers over many hours.
My husband and I were so horrified that we then began to teach our kids very differently. We now teach them that’s it’s ok to say no to ANYONE! Whether a teacher, a police-officer, a child or an adult. If their instincts and gut tell them that something is strange or wrong then they are allowed to say no and to seek further help. We have said that if it is at school, then they phone us. If we are unavailable (which would be very rare indeed) then they have a list of safe people to call who are on the school’s records.
Teaching our kids to think for themselves and to have confidence in their instincts is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. I’m very mindful of the phrases that I use now and try to keep ‘do as you’re told’ out of the equation as it’s not a message that I necessarily want my kids to receive.
Ideas for keeping your kids safe:
- Discuss what’s ok and what’s not ok in age-appropriate terms with your child. We told our children that even we, their parents were not allowed to touch them (even for normal shows of affection or for medication purposes) without their permission. It is their body, nobody else’s and their explicit consent is needed.
- We role-played situations and came up with many possible reasons a person in authority could use to persuade kids to do something they didn’t want to. Things like getting into trouble (which my kids hate to be in) or that we, their parents might get into trouble is a big one.
- Teach them to trust their gut. That’s their instincts guiding them. Model this behaviour in your daily life.
- Teach consent. We taught our kids what consent means and that it could be withdrawn at any time. One of our boys then revealed that he didn’t like us tickling him and that we did not stop when he asked. I was mortified, but he was exactly right! By thinking that it was fun and we were just messing around together and continuing to do it, I was teaching him that his consent didn’t matter. Epic fail on my part. It never happened again.
- Encourage your children to stand their ground where appropriate. We allow our kids to stand in their power against us now and again so that they can grow that muscle and be ready to use it in life.
- Listen to your kids and talk about a variety of different things so they feel comfortable talking to you. And do it often because communication is key.
- Let your kids know that it’s ok to question things and not blindly follow. This is vital in keeping them safe.
I would love any further thoughts on keeping our kids safe. The more we can learn as parents, the better we can prepare our precious ones. – Cathy ❤
Author: Cathy Domoney, Positive Thinking Children’s Author
Cathy holds a Diploma in Counselling, Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy. With a BA Hons in Sociology & History along with a Certificate in Life Coaching, she offers the complete package that is destined to make changes in the lives of children through her books. When teaching she helped pupils & colleagues with self-esteem issues. Cathy knows how positive-thinking can impact on a child’s experience of the world & passionately shares this knowledge with parents & teachers.
Madeleine, Maddy & Midge – Positive Thinking for Children
Madeleine has two secret friends, Maddy and Midge. Maddy’s happy messages make Madeleine feel tall, strong and full of confidence. Midge however, fills Madeleine with worries, troubles and doubt and makes her feel small, scared and alone. Madeleine has found the magic spell so that Maddy’s voice will be all she will hear and Midge will disappear like the ‘Pop’ of a bubble. Madeleine has the power to decide whether to be happy or sad. The question is, what will she decide? Madeleine, Maddy & Midge contains a powerful message of self-esteem and confidence for children. It is more than just a story book, it is a literary friend. Complete with parent and teacher activities Madeleine, Maddy & Midge is a valuable resource tool.
Get Cathy’s book here.