The other day I was in my office at my gym when I heard a 6 or 7 year old DEMANDING certain things from their mother. Then Listening to the mother make concession after concession and explain to my office manager that her child was “strong willed” . As a Dad of 2 teenagers, I can remember times like that. I am far from being a perfect parent. But, I AM THE PARENT. I lead the way. I recently lectured in Region 7 on “Dealing with difficult Children” so this has been on my mind.
Reading Tom Burgdorf’s facebook post this morning was timely and I want to share.
From Tom Burgdorf facebook page:
Parents, Teachers and Coaches – 7 Year Olds Obey, They Don’t Dictate
Most 7 year olds are cute, they have been on this earth 84 months and they don’t know how to multiply yet. How did they get so much control and power in a family? We are seeing more and more families catering to the desires and whims of 7 year olds as if they know what is right for them. As if they are “worldly,” educated and have a grasp at right and wrong. Doesn’t that seem odd?
7 Year olds don’t have the knowledge, tools, experience or education to know what is right for them. Or what sport they “should” be trying or how many practices is correct for them. They don’t know the right food to eat, when to eat or in some cases how to behave properly. Enter the adults in their lives to guide them. These 7 year olds don’t even get the conversation right all of the time when a teacher or coach talks to them. Do we hang on every word a 7 year old brings home about school or sports practices?
We are doing a disservice to the development of a 7 year old if we give them too many choices. They just don’t have the right experiences or knowledge to make an educated decision at this age. No, you aren’t showing them “love” by letting them decide what their life is all about. No, we aren’t training them to make decisions later by letting them dictate at age 7. No we aren’t teaching them that their opinions count when they complain about the way an adult teacher or coach talked to them in practice at age 7.
7 year olds need guidance. 7 year olds need to learn their position in life. 7 year olds need to be more quiet and listen to those who know a zillion more things than they do. I really think there are a few 7 year olds out there who think they are equal to the adults in their life. Strong parents know that a 7 year old is vulnerable, confused, uneducated and in need of lots and lots of help.
Haven’t we all seen an adult or two dominated by a 7 year old? How can anyone think that that is a positive situation for the child? I am not talking about the occasional tantrum but something even more important. “Mom, put my shoe on,” as the 7 year old motions for the mom to kneel at her feet. Or the 7 year old refusing to eat the meal that the parents have prepared or paid for. (She then goes hungry for several hours as her body tells her how stupid she was to make the grandstand play at dinner.)
7 year olds dictating to her parents, teachers or coaches? Really? We, as educated adults really think that is a good situation? 7 year olds should obey 95% of the time and nicely question 5% of the time. We know what is best for them. We know how to keep them safe, fed, clothed and moving forward. A 7 year old comes home, complains about her teacher at school and we are on the phone 5 minutes later with the principal? Really? (Serious things yes, minor things no.)
7 year olds have no power or influence. They can be heard and we will consider their feelings and desires but they always understand that the parent, teacher or coach knows what is best. This is a very important lesson.
Side note, I am seeing a little bit of a trend with kids that they dwell on the negative a great deal. They talk about their “bad” teachers at school and tell about all of the bad things that happen at practice. I think this comes from them feeling “empowered” to be able to do this. I think this is detrimental to them being excited about learning. Stop complaining about your teachers and get some work done.
I hope you don’t see too many 7 year olds in your circle of friends and families that dictate rather than obey. As they get older we can start giving a little more responsibility to them to make decisions and hopefully do the right thing but not at 7. It is so important for us to teach our 7 year olds their proper place in the world. Tom Burgdorf Gymnet Sports on Facebook
(If you like “Tom’s style,” and you run a “for profit” sports gym, cheer gym, dance studio or sports program, consider becoming a member of his Elite 100 Sports Business Program. You can receive a sample of this program by e-mailing Tom@gymnetsports.com. This program is terrific for all year training of staff.)