The other day, my mom made an offhand remark to someone that I never liked babies as a kid. This was a bit appalling for me because, as far as I can remember, I have always adored babies. I have no idea why mom thought something about me that just wasn't true. It also made me think about how we may be misinterpreting our children's actions. Would I end up making a mistake like this? I hope not.
It's very easy to generalize children's behaviour and assume our kids are thinking a certain way when they are really not. While kids are great at sharing their thoughts out loud, they are not as good at articulating their feelings. As parents, it is up to us to help them verbalize those feelings.
Very often, kids behave differently with adults than with peers. A child who appears to be shy and introverted may in fact, be outgoing with friends.This is the kind of disconnect that parents should avoid. The old school of thought is that parents should be 'authoritative' and children should 'fear' them. Though few explicitly follow this, many parents who believe in strongly 'disciplining' come from this line of thinking. Usually parents of bullies or mischief makers display surprise when told of their children's actions because they just don't 'know' them as well as they think. My thoughts are that while kids are not always capable of making sensible decisions (they tend to be impulsive), parents should steer them in the right direction whenever they need help. I wrote more about my parenting 'style' in 'How I became 'that' kind of parent (and not 'that' one!)'. I also believe that a child's personality develops early in life and we, as parents and educators, should learn to accept them that way.
Bottom line: try to observe your kids closely rather than relying on what they say. It may help you discover a hidden talent or pick out warning signs that something is wrong. The more time you spend on 'knowing' your kids, the more you will understand why they are the way they are.
How do you observe the non-verbal cues in your kids?
(Pic: Not Hear, Not See, Not Speak by George Hodan)