Not only do those two people live in my house, I am excited to introduce their cousins Huh, My Bad and I Forgot. These people are what we call children. And children’s brains are not fully developed, so perhaps these “excuses” are their truths.
The early years form the foundation for who our children will become as adults. If a child is nurtured by an adult, I believe that the child’s ability to succeed skyrockets. The more hugs, the more love, the more talking to and reading to, the better man or woman you are creating.
As a child grows older, his boundaries should expand as he earns the privilege. We wouldn’t expect a 5-year-old to drive a car; we do expect a 17-year-old to understand the implications of a lie. Children earn privilege by doing chores, by responding in truth, by honoring their word and by getting grades in school that are indicative of their abilities.
There needs to some kind of enforcement of what an expanded boundary should mean in the life of a child. Children who never experience consequences end up with an edge that will one day cut them.
The better you know your child, the better you will be able to elicit a response during times of angst that will enable fruitful conversation. Speaking with children takes time. Adults have their own moods and rhythms, and children are equally excited to bathe in their moods and rhythms.
Life is a series of boundaries. From the bassinet to the playpen to the pre-K playground, to high school and graduation, each stage of growth requires that the boundaries within which our children live must be expanded.
Robert Fulghum wrote a very interesting poem — and later a book of the same name — called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” His poem includes various one-liners, and here are a few: “Don’t hit people.” “Put things back where you found them.” “Clean up your own mess.”
If children do not get the attention they need as children, they will find a way to create what they think that attention should look like. Sometimes their mimicry leads to good behavior, and sometimes it leads to bad behavior. The latter is what we strive to avoid.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to email@example.com.