Helping children become more considerate of the adults in their lives

by Gwen Randall-Young
Psychology for Living

I have long been an advocate for kids of all ages. Adults tend to think they know best, and sometimes they do. We do not know best about some things, for example, how our children feel. I work with many young people and they teach me much about how they think and feel. I am happy to help adults to be more considerate of children.

Once in a while though, I have to step back and remember to remind children to be considerate of the adults in their lives. So kids, here goes. If an adult treats you with utter and complete disrespect, or is abusive, it is very hard to be considerate of them. You can only try to maintain your own integrity in dealing with them. If you find their behavior demeaning and violating, vow to never be like that. Such behavior is unacceptable.

However, most of you who read this will be dealing with adults who would be considered by the rest of the world to be acceptable. Therefore, they deserve respect. What does this mean? It means that you should recognize that they chose to have you in their lives. Every parent who consciously chooses to have a child does so because they intend to love that child, and to be a good parent. Some do not know how, or had poor parenting models themselves. Most of your parents want a good relationship with you. You can facilitate this process if you accept the following guidelines.

As the ones who provide for your basic needs, your parents have the final say in most things. Parents should not be yelled at, sworn at, or be the target of your aggression. They should not be expected to do things for you that you could do yourself. You should help out in ways that are appropriate for your age.

At five or six you should be able to make your bed, set the table, and help with washing up. Then from eight to ten you should manage other cleaning tasks, such as vacuuming, dusting, taking out garbage. After the age of ten you should be able to clean bathrooms and kitchen, do laundry, and help with meal preparation. By the age of sixteen, you should be able to handle any household task, including buying groceries and cooking meals.

Each family must work out a system that works for them. I do not believe that children should be doing all the work, but nor do I think that parents should either. Children must have time for homework, lessons, sports and play. Most helping tasks could be accomplished in a half hour per day, during the week, and perhaps an hour on weekends. If you are inefficient, it will take longer.

If, in families, we adopt the idea that we are here to help each other, and give willingly, things go very smoothly. Not liking chores is not reason not to do them. Making parents nag and hassle you before you will do things only creates tension in the home. Doing jobs poorly damages trust.

If you want to test my theory, try for one week to do what you are asked, or even to do things before you are asked. Let your parents know that you appreciate them. If you really want to create miracles, ask them if there’s anything you can do for them. And don’t forget the hugs.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit Follow Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.