Expert Parenting Advice
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A Roman Emperor's advice for parents

Why expecting too much from your kids sets you up for frustration.

This morning I was reading from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor from around 160AD, and he wrote Meditations as a diary to himself.

I try to read a few quotes from it every week. I love the idea of reading the personal thoughts of this powerful Roman emperor from 2000 years ago. This morning I read this:

Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil.

Marcus Aurelius

Reading this, I thought about my kids. Often they behave in ways that make me feel that they are ungrateful, or insolent, or selfish. But then, when I spend some time thinking about their behavior, I realize that they are not doing these things on purpose - they are acting like kids, because they are kids.

And kids are still in the process of learning how to behave.

The thing is, expecting your kids to behave like adults, to always have self-control and listen to you every time, is just setting yourself up for failure and frustration.

Instead, to prevent frustration, you need to be realistic and understand what your child is developmentally able to do and understand.

This is a valuable lesson that Dr. Heather Wittenberg taught me when I interviewed her for our book How To Get Kids To Listen.

Dr. Wittenberg is a well-known parenting author and a practicing psychologist, specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

She explained how important it is to be knowledgeable about what you can expect from your child at their current age, instead of requiring them to follow rules that they are simply not ready to understand or remember.

Dr. Wittenberg also shared the two key things that preschool teachers understand about how to get kids to follow rules, and how you can use this to get your kids to follow your house rules.

Understanding these two things makes it much easier to get your kids to cooperate, while preventing you from becoming frustrated.