We often see the world in good and bad, which affects the way we parent. Very naturally when our children do something that we approve of, we praise him or her. It usually sounds like, “good girl!” or “you’re a very good boy today”. It comes rolling off our tongue unconsciously.
Good and bad is a conclusion from which we judged an action (or non-action). The effect of this is, the child feels judged. This robs their power and their say in the matter; it is a projection placed upon him or her from the parent. Or Aunt, like in my case with my niece. She didn’t want to share her cookie with me. I got upset, and I chided her for being selfish, that her unwillingness to share doesn’t make her a good girl.
Was I the judge of her? Yes. I condemned her action and made her sit under a big neon sign that flashed the letters SELFISH. If I had put myself in her shoes for a moment before judging her so quickly, I might have seen it from another perspective. Maybe she was being careful about her things. Maybe she wanted to savor her cookie at her own pace and just wasn’t ready to share yet. The point is, she was doing her thing, not mine, and got called a bad girl for it. Pretty unfair isn’t it?
Step out of the world of good and bad. Step out of judging these little ones by the way we interpret their actions.
Take that moment instead to ask “why did you do that?” and hear from them. Acknowledge their virtues or the intention instead, like “Ah hah! You’re exploring colors!” vs. “your paining isn’t turning out very good…” or “I get that you’re trying to take care of your toys” vs. “stop pulling your sister’s hair, you’re a bad girl!” (in the case of the latter, it’s natural that they will act to protect/defend themselves when threatened – we do it too, does that make us bad girls and boys?)
Over time, your child will grow up exercising those virtues instead of grow up being afraid of that voice in their head that judges everything he or she does as good or bad.