When you want something from your child — I’m talking about physical objects — what do you do? Do you ask them nicely to give it to you? Or do you just take the short cut and snatch it from them?
When a child gives you something, it’s a choice they make. Whether you are telling them or asking them to give you something, or whether they are giving it to you randomly and voluntarily, it’s a choice. The fact that they are willingly handing something over to you, this is a choice. And this ‘choice’ they make gives them a sense of individuality and independence. These are very important for child to experience. These kinds of experiences build confidence in children and help them be their own person. Without such experiences, it’s hard for them to grow into balanced, mature individuals that are able to make their own decisions.
A child giving you an item rather than you taking it, believe it or not leaves a lasting impact on their lives. It makes them balanced individuals that can make decisions on their own. They become more mature and aware of their choices and decisions. And they learn that others respect them, which in turn teaches them how to respect you. It also teaches them not to snatch or take things from others.
Taking things from your child teaches them that they are not in charge of themselves and that they are inferior. They already know that you are the authoritative figure, and you don’t need to take something from them yourself to reinforce that. The messages you do end up sending though are very negative ones that will reflect on your child’s life, maybe even forever.
One of the messages they get is that they are not in charge of making physically personal decisions, like controlling what is in their hands. This is a terrible feeling to give to anyone, let alone your own child. You would be stripping them from their right of being who they are. That is so critical, I cannot stress enough on it. Taking something from a child makes them feel worthless. It makes them feel like they possess nothing, like they have no sense of entitlement and no self worth. It also removes the stability of them knowing when something is theirs and when it is not. The reason being is that they don’t know when you or anyone might take anything from their hands.
In the long run, this can translate very differently and a lot worse.
Teach them from a very young age that when you say the words “give it to me” that they hand the object over to you. Teach them this with love, patience, and mutual respect, and they are sure to pick up these positive qualities from you. And then have them know that if they do not hand the thing over, they will face consequences, such as: giving them no attention for about 15 minutes, or having them sit in Time-Out for several minutes as a result of not being obeying you.
When they get an appropriate amount of love from you throughout the day, then ignoring them for 15 minutes would deliver the message that you are not pleased with their disobedience and that would encourage them to give you the object without having to use force to take anything from them. It takes patience and effort, but they are worth it! Every child is.
I will discuss consequences in another article however just briefly, it is definitely better to have them faces consequences, such as having time-out, resulting in them handing you the item, rather than taking it from their hand yourself – unless they are carrying something dangerous of course, like a knife in their hand for example. And you take it from them to prevent them from hurting themselves then that’s fine, that’s an exception. I do hope though that it is an exception and not something frequent, because that would be very concerning!
I know that it’s much easier to grab things from your child instead of waiting till they listen and finally give you the object. However, this treatment will eventually lead to your child snatching things from others.. And it won’t stop there.
You will start to face self-esteem issues, jealousy, attitude, aggressive behavior, stubbornness, and more. They might start talking back, maybe even taking things from you without bothering to ask, and they may be rude. The only problem is, you can’t even blame them once all of these habits are formed because you initiated them. And the older they get, the harder it will be for you to change them.
All this problematic behavior will cause your child to face issues at school and in life in general. You may hear complaints from their teachers or other parents. And if your child is passive, they may be bullied as they are used to having things taken away from them. So would you want your child to get in trouble in any way for a habit that you instilled in them? A habit that is not initially their fault?
The key is to prevent bad habits, not to try to break them after they’re formed.
Having your child give you something without you having to take it from them is a result of ‘obedience’ and discipline — which is something that should have been taught to your child from a very young age. If the obedience is not there, and you have already started with the snatching thing, then I assume your child has developed a bad habit of being stubborn when asked to give something and would not hand it over right away. This makes your job a little more difficult and it might take you longer to break that habit. However, nothing is impossible, and again, your child is worth your time and effort.
These kinds of negative behaviors and habits tend to stick with children for the rest of their lives. Some may be aware of themselves enough to realize these are bad habits and could make the choice to change them, but many more children will grow up facing lots of issues in life never knowing why.
There is absolutely no positive outcome that could result from this behavior. And there is no way that the behavior would not be formed in the first place if they were being treated this way by the parents. So be very careful the next time you want something from your child. Ask them nicely for it, teaching them to speak up for what they want.