Discipline

Expecting Your Child to Act Like an Adult

By Brittany Rust

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It was time to change yet another diaper and I certainly didn’t enjoy it any more than he did, but it’s part of the life of a toddler. Roman hates—and I mean HATES—diaper changes. It was a poopy one and as I opened up the diaper, Roman started flopping around in protest. I then proceeded to say, “You do know that when you fight me it takes longer, right.”

You can fit on both hands the number of words he can say so expecting him to understand the complexity of what was happening was too much to ask for this 19 month old.

So often I find myself expecting Roman to act older than he really is. I attempt to rationalize and convince him to be beyond his years. At times, I snap or yell in frustration because he doesn’t understand. I’m expecting him to act like an adult and in response, often end up acting like a child.

How often have you found yourself treating your child beyond his or her years? We don’t plan on it, do we? But in the trenches when patience wears thin, sometimes we find ourselves expecting too much from our little ones. Or our children or even teenagers. We want them to be on our level—or at least, on a more mature level—that they just aren’t at yet. And in response to their lack of maturity, we lash out with an attitude that is more like that of a child.

Remember: you are the parent. You are the mature one. You mustn’t expect your child to be beyond their years and act in a way you struggle to act yourself at that moment. I’m not an expert in maintaining poise in these tense moments but I do know we must watch our responses. Walk away, take a deep breath, and return to respond appropriately.

Your child is but a child for a short time—don’t make them grow up too soon. Let them live in their child-like wonder while they can. And you—well, if you want to embrace the posture of a child in any way, then do so with the faith and humility a child has. Now that would be the exception.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’
— Matthew 18:1-4

Parenting is hard and we all have our moments that we’d like to redo or at least, forget. But as we talk about often here, there is grace and strength for your moments of weakness. Let your kid be a kid. And act like a child in faith and humility.