GUEST BLOG POST: Seeing Children in a New Way by Rebecca Eanes, author, Positive Parenting

Photo by Charlee Lifestyle Photography

Photo by Charlee Lifestyle Photography

Children, like all human beings, feel most cooperative when they are treated with respect and kindness. Adults do not re­spond well to people who speak to us harshly or treat us with disrespect. Is it a stretch to believe that children wouldn’t re­spond well to such treatment either? Think of how it might feel if a loved one spoke so unkindly of you in front of your peers, or threatened you when you were feeling your worst. I doubt you would feel motivated in any way, yet we seldom stop to think of how this treatment makes children feel. We are habituated to seeing children as inferior rather than inexperienced, when in truth, that’s what they really are—inexperienced humans doing the best they can with what they’ve been given up to this point. How can we expect anything more?

If we want to create lasting bonds with our children, we need to change the way we see them. We need a huge cultural shift in the way we view children, and it starts with you and me. We can assume they have good intentions, not bad. We can perceive the behavior as communica­tion, not manipulation.

We don’t have to surrender our inner voices. Tune out the clamor of society and tune in to the whispers of your heart. These are not tyrants. They are not our enemies. These are our precious children.

Here’s a liberating truth that I’ve discovered: It’s okay to be tender. Love isn’t really supposed to be tough. Being tender doesn’t open the door for a child to walk all over you. Being tender opens the door that allows your child to walk alongside you. When she’s walking alongside you, she hears the words you say. When you’re walking alongside her, you can guide her steps. Tenderness is the avenue to connection, and connection is the key to parenting. And it all starts with choosing to see our children in a new way.

If we are going to see children in a new way, then we must also see parenthood in a new way. Rather than being the strict authoritarian (which is a role we take on when we perceive the child is out to do bad things), we can take on the much more connecting role of teacher and guide. Instead of chastising him harshly (a duty we perceive necessary to make the child good), we can be an encourager (because we understand he is already good).

Think about this. The people in our lives who look past our faults and see our beauty, the ones who still see the light in us during the times we feel only darkness, those are the people who save us from the depths of blackness. Those are the ones who help us see our own beauty and light again. Do you have someone in your life like that? We all need that person— he one who sees our light. The one who reflects our light back at us so we can see it, too. That’s what a parent should be.

You may be wondering how this is going for me. How are my kids doing? Well, I won’t say that they are perfect. I won’t say I am either. But I will say that they are beautiful people. My older son took his birthday money and bought his brother a gift. He said, “I have enough, and I just want my brother to be happy.” He sponsors a needy child through Compassion Inter­national and works every month to pay the sponsor fee. He tells me he wishes he could sponsor them all. This past Christmas, upon seeing that I had filled their stockings but mine was empty, my two gently parented boys took it upon themselves to secretly stuff my stocking with handwritten love notes and left­ over Halloween candy. That’s hardly the behavior of “spoiled, disrespectful brats.”

You see, some parents may measure success with grades or compliments of good behavior from onlookers or tidy rooms and completed chore charts, but I measure success with kind­ness and compassion. So far, I’d say positive parenting has defi­nitely been a success. Although my sons do get good grades and are “well behaved,” what matters is that they have empathy and compassion, because that’s what I want to send out into this world. That’s what the world needs more of.

Our home is a safe haven. Even though my children argue sometimes, they forgive quickly and move on. They are the best of friends, and I have no doubt that they will have each other’s backs always. They trust us. We trust them. We are close, and everyone knows they’re loved. I can’t really ask for more than that.


positiveparentingbookcoverExcerpted from Positive Parenting by Rebecca Eanes with the permission of TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Eanes.


Rebecca Eanes is the founder of, creator of the popular Facebook page Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond, contributing editor to Creative Child and Baby Maternity Magazines, and author of The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting. Rebecca is the mother of two boys and her new book Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide goes on sale June 7th.


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