A wise parent meets children where they are, and during early childhood they are in their bodies exploring the physical world, in their imaginations and creativity, and deeply connected with parents and other loving adults.
As children grow, it becomes increasingly important that we create a structure that supports their true needs. They do not look to us to meet every physical need as they wean and get interested in the outside world, but they thrive when we hold them in a healthy environment. To do this, we can (and must) choose what to make available to our kids.
For example, we can serve healthy foods and trust their choices within that range. It isn't helpful to cater to their wants or to stock the kitchen with foods you don't think are good for them. There will be times that this upsets your child, right? Some may complain, insist, demand that they want chicken nuggets every day or plain pasta at every dinner. That's okay, kids are bound to push our limits! If you are providing a healthy range of foods, stay firm and clear, letting them find their own way within what you offer. There's no need to take their complaints personally, react, punish, convince, or please them, your job is really to love and nurture them.
Consider electronics, classes, social events, chores, and family obligations in this same way. Get very clear about what you think is good and healthy for your child, and then stick with it, even if and when they are frustrated. And most importantly, stick with it in a loving way. Have compassion for their hard emotions even as you stay firm. Remember that you are on their side! Your loving 'no' may offer them the chance they need to release difficult emotions.
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