Do children criticize their parents

Dispute: When children are allowed to criticize

It's nice when children become self-confident and speak their minds. It goes without saying that at some point they will also criticize their parents. Only: what's up? And what's going too far?

Luisa, 6, drums with both fists on the living room parquet, occasionally throws her favorite doll against the wall because she is not allowed to watch TV, and finally yells at her parents, suffocating with tears: "You are no longer my mom and dad!" Seconds later the door slams and the child stomps angrily into his room. Roland and Maike, their parents, smile at us: "Isn't she cute?" What the two of them are so ecstatic about their blond curly Rumpelstiltskin: This is Luisa's first attempt at fundamental criticism of her parents, countless more will follow. Spread over the next ten years and in different phases.

Phase 1: primary school age
Phase 2: puberty

Phase 1: Regular police officers of primary school age

Alas, father absent-mindedly licks the jam off the knife at breakfast! We always got a warning, as reliable as the time announcement: "You can't do that, you can cut your tongue really badly!" Or even worse: on Saturday mornings we yawned the fatigue of the past week heartily and let the children look into a wide open throat. "Haaaand in front Muuund, Papaaaa!" We couldn't get rid of the feeling that little knights boarded our education fortress and apparently want to fight each other with their own weapons. Obvious question: Do we have to put up with that?

Children enjoy uncovering every little shortcoming

Anyone who sets rules must also observe them
Our little survey of befriended parents confirmed our gut feeling at the time: Yes, we have to. Because whoever draws up rules has to observe them himself. Primary school children are still very much based on the example of parents and teachers, they emulate them, but already notice very clearly when the big ones make rules for the little ones but ignore them themselves. Because at this age the sense of justice is particularly pronounced, mostly voiced in the accusation "Man, that is completely unjust!". If children keep coming up with this sentence, it means that it is best to check carefully whether something is possibly going wrong.
Occasional injustice claims, on the other hand, are actually good for development. In any case, Kerstin and Timm gradually realized: Mothers and fathers, grandmas and grandpas are not as perfect as they previously seemed to them! It goes without saying that our offspring continued to strive to relentlessly expose every little mistake. And soon the helmet demand made: "If mom doesn't wear one, I'll drive without one!"

In some cases, the law does not apply equally
This is exactly where we drew the line and bravely defended it. No, here neither is the same right for everyone nor the same duty. Because adults are much more experienced and cycle much safer through traffic than children, whose bodies are also much less robust. That's why Timm and Kerstin had to wear helmets for years despite their protests and we didn't. We listened to the criticism and contradiction of our children in this dispute, exchanged arguments, tried to convince, but in the end made clear and unequivocal decisions.

Phase 2: Pre-pubescent permanent debaters

More freedom step by step, not all at once

Now the body language changes: Rumpelstiltskin's clenched fists disappear into challenging arms. The flush of anger that has always bulged out on the face gives way to an effortful grin that should alternate between casual and disparaging. Thrown into this pose, Timm soon after finishing elementary school no longer stamped his foot vigorously, but lounged in an armchair or on the door frame and risked a perky lip, preferably in the presence of friends: "Dude, we're chilling out now a little at the junior high school party. " Irritated question from the legal guardian: "Aha, and when will you be home again?" Answer of the twelve-year-old: "Don't know yet, is that important?"

Hardly uttered, Timm glanced furtively at his two buddies and earned appreciative looks. Timm wanted to send us exactly this message: "Let’s be good with your regulations, we’re now talking at eye level - from now on I will know what’s good for me."

But that's exactly what children of this age don't know yet, so parents have to put a stop sign and make it clear to them that now, shortly before the onset of puberty, they can expect more freedom bit by bit, but this is not available in self-service shops. If this announcement is even a little indistinct, a bit of parental authority is usually gone.

Each word is now placed on the gold scales

Snotty answers can also be calls for help
Just like with Robbie from Timm's tennis club: for weeks he danced his mother on the nose and just posed her with strikes and snotty answers. In addition to provocation, they can also be a kind of call for help. For example when children feel that they have been treated unfairly. Like Kerstin, who for a while unconsciously was condemned by us to taking down the garbage, clearing the dishwasher and setting the table, while her brother successfully ducked away. But that only came out after we asked Kerstin why she is always so snotty.

Problem solved - please take care of the next one straight away, that's what they say at this age. For example that with the gold scales: "Mom, you asked me about your homework for tomorrow, not the one for the day after tomorrow, that's why I didn't tell you." Or: "I put my clothes away. Well, behind the bed. You didn't say anything about tidying up ..." Answers that - at least for us - can lead to a moderate volcanic eruption. Often without success, because the deterrent effect of loud ranting tirades decreases as our children's enthusiasm for discussion increases.

Do our children have to become constant debates?
Yes, it is nice that you confidently express your opinion and not let the butter be taken from your bread. But do they have to become constant debaters who turn the word around in our mouths? Yes, they have to! Because they are about to swim free, they discover that language and linguistic precision are suitable means of discussion and assertion towards other people. Means that you want to try out and refine.

Parents need to control and moderate each other

It took us a while to get it: This is a challenge that we have to accept without scolding or being offended. We do this largely by parents checking and correcting each other: If one of us strikes a barracks courtyard tone towards the children, for example because they leave a jungle of hair in the washbasin after the morning toilet, the other takes it aside and admonishes the children away from the ears Moderation.