Originally Posted by bluedaisy
Thanks for all the great responses!
I can clarify a little what i mean about being "child centered".
In the other culture I lived in that was NOT child centered, kids would normally amuse themselves with very few toys, not interrupt adult conversations, were not demanding or sassy, and I never saw a tantrum there (not saying there were never any tantrums, but definitely fewer than here, and a public tantrum would have been very out of place). the children were also very respectful.
I realize some of these things might be more cultural, but when I observe my extended family some of the "child centered" behavior I saw was:
- asking a 3 year old where she wanted to sit for thanksgiving, and then taking 15 minutes to try and figure out how to arrange all the kids and adults so that she could sit where she wanted.
- asking a toddler what they want for lunch instead of having them eat what everyone else is eating
- kids who pick the music every time they are in the car - so it's always children's cds playing and never adult music
- adults not being able to have any kind of meaningful conversation when the kids are awake because the kids are the center of attention and always interrupting
- when my mom comes to babysit my one year old daughter she feels like she has to play with her and entertain her constantly, and hovers so that she doesn't do things like walk with the cordless phone in case she trips and the antennae pokes her eye out
to me, this kind of behavior would encourage kids that they should always be the center of attention and always get what they want - which is not messages i want my dd to get.
i'm asking for examples because i realized my own family is so child centered and i really want to do things differently with my dd, but i'm not really sure what to do practically
ETA: I don't think the opposite of child centered is being parent centered, but maybe being family centered - where there is a balance of everyone's needs and children learn that other people's desires and opinions matter so they won't always get their way
i don't think the parent's needs should always trump those of the kids, just as the kids needs should not always trump those of the parents or siblings
I agree with everything you said here. I feel that this way of child-rearing is unlikely to end well. It has been easier for us since we have 3 kids, so doing this for each kid is impractical, but also because it does not equip children for the real world. Adults are not asked or given what they want most of the time, and to give kids the impression that everything will be to their liking does them no favors. Practically, this is what we do (and we are often told that we have such "good" kids so maybe it works):
1. Number one rule: you get what you get and you don't get upset.
2. Mom and Dad's word is law. Period.
3. When things don't go your way, you get an appropriate period of crying, and then you are done. (Ex: last night I asked them if they wanted to go to a diner or McDs. They split evenly, so I cast the deciding vote for McDs b/c I love the grilled southwest salad. The loser cried and wailed and worked himself to almost vomiting, saying he wouldn't eat anything. In this situation, my very child-centered mother would have gone on and on trying to comfort him, and the result would have been more wailing. I just said, "I understand you are disappointed. We will go to the diner next time. You have 5 minutes until we get to McDs to calm down and decide what you want to eat. If you decide not to eat, then there will be no food later, period." Result? He stopped crying and chose nuggets and everything was fine.)
4. When Mom and Dad are talking, there are no interruptions.
5. Politeness is of highest importance and there are no excuses. Ds1 got in trouble for not obeying the bus driver. He was put in time out, denied tv time, and had to write a note and apologize verbally. Once past a certain age (usually 4), there are no excuses for rudeness (no, "Oh, he's a sensitive child.")
6. Everybody works. I only pick up toys on rare occasions. Kids have chores appropriate to their ages. I also don't take any guilt trips. B/c I work at home, there are times in which it looks like I am here but I am working. They have to respect that and I am careful to show them that I like my job and am proud of contributing to the family.
7. I don't get involved in their disputes except to tell them to work it out or I will take the toy away.
8. Dh and I leave them often with grandma so we can have dates by ourselves. This is key.
9. They do not get toys whenever we are at a store, nor happy meals whenever we eat fast food. Those are treats, not expectations.
10. You eat the same food at meal time with everyone else. No one gets special food or a second meal b/c the first was not eaten. You can choose not to eat, but you will be hungry.
11. And b/c you mentioned it, we almost never listen to kids' music. We listen to what we want to listen to and they like that, too.