Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

Why you shouldn't high-five a child

Why trying to force your children to cooperate with you just makes your life more difficult in the long term.

Earlier today, I found myself reading a parenting advice article by "parenting expert" John Rosemond.

And wow, do I disagree with him!

The article was titled "Living with Children: Why you shouldn't high-five a child".

John is a family psychologist, and in the article he explains - in detail - why he would never high-five his children.

He shares the story about how his 5-year-old grandson wanted to high-five him, but he refused, leaving his poor grandson confused about why his grandpa left him hanging.

John also proudly explains that his grandson, now 15 years old, has never tried to high-five him since.

My main problem with John Rosemond's viewpoint is that the reason why he feels you should never high-five your children is because high-fiving should only happen between equals, and according to him adults are superior, and children are inferior.

The problem with this mindset is that it leads you to believe that your child's viewpoint doesn't matter.

But here's the thing: if you open yourself up to viewing your child's viewpoint as just as important as yours, you get to learn from them. And suddenly you realize that you can learn a lot from them.

Not only that, but if you get out of the mindset that your child must listen to you just because you are the actually becomes easier to get them to cooperate.

In my interview with Melissa Schwartz, the co-author of Authentic Parenting Power and founder of Leading Edge Parenting, she explained it like this:

Rather than “how to get their kids to listen,” I prefer to think about it as “what helps kids listen” or “what do children need to be able to listen?”

Because really what we see is that children, first of all, have to feel empowered.

If they feel like they're being bossed around or told what to do, or there's a grown-up who doesn't get it, who's making them do something they don't want to do, they are going to push back because they want to feel power.

What we want to do is help children feel healthy power, not this combative power with the adults in their lives.

Melissa Schwartz

The fact is that the less power you give your children, and the less you value their viewpoints...the more they will fight back, and the more you have to use force to get them to cooperate.

In our interview, Melissa explains how you can give children this sense of healthy power, while at the same time keeping clear but loving boundaries.

The more you can do this, the better connected you'll be with your child, and the easier it becomes to get them to cooperate when you really need them to.