My favorite teen mom is making the news again.
This summer, I wrote a post about the ridiculousness of the amount of money Farrah Abraham’s kid scored for a lost tooth. Six hundred bucks. I get that this amount of money is chump change for a celebrity, and yes, I cringe at calling Farrah a celebrity, but she is. The excess of a $600 tooth fairy visit just blew my mind…you’ll have to hop over and read about it in case you missed it.
To date, it is the most-visited post on my blog and I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I’ve written some good stuff here and there but apparently, the hot mess teen mom is bringing people in.
I’m not going to pretend to understand that, but okay. We’ll roll on.
But anyhoo…Farrah is making parenting news again…this time, she’s publicly chastising her six-year-old daughter Sophia for what most parents would see as run-of-the-mill bratty behavior.
I watched a clip of Teen Mom OG…and no, don’t even ask me why I watched that crap. And yes, Teen Mom OG really does exist. You can check out the trailer below but you might come away with a few less brain cells than when you started. You were warned:
“Sometimes you’re immature and selfish, and you don’t think about other people besides yourself.”
This was said by Farrah in a voice-over during a video montage of Sophia’s less-than-stellar behavior: throwing things, hitting her mom, making faces, etc. We don’t actually know what specific action triggered the “selfish” remark, but there appear to be plenty from which to choose. Maybe the remark was scripted, who knows?
But, should Farrah really expect a six year-old not to be selfish? I get that she’s not a typical kid. Her whole life has been in front of a camera living in the shadow of her hot-mess mom’s MTV fame. But as I watched Sophia’s behavior on camera, I nodded my head and kind of snickered because my kids have behaved this way. All of them. They don’t get away with it and since we don’t have camera’s rolling to capture the mundane moments of our everyday lives, the internet really doesn’t care when my kids act like little beasts.
But here’s the thing: six year-olds are immature. They are selfish. Children are inherently selfish. They learn to care about the people around them as they grow up but they come out of the womb being able to do nothing for themselves. They rely on adults to do everything for them for quite a long time. They expect someone else to feed them, entertain them and wipe their butts.
[Tweet “Kids are selfish: they expect someone else to feed them and wipe their butts”]
Does that make them selfish?
Have you ever spent time with a child under the age of eight? They’re driven by their wants and needs and not by reason and logic. Small children can display empathy for others but their own needs and feelings come first. Empathy is a trait that parents need to nurture and coach as kids grow up. Criticizing in a moment of frustration? Well, we’ve all probably been there, but probably not the most effective way of teaching empathy.
My five year-old son recently (and very deliberately) took a pile of papers sitting on the table where I was working, shuffled them and let them sail to the floor. He’d been trying to get my attention and I’d responded to his requests to “find Bubble Guppies on TV” with several absent “just a minute honey’s.”
His behavior was selfish. He wasn’t getting what he wanted. He cared not about my reason for delay. He found a negative way to get my attention. I got angry and yelled, a response I’m not proud of.
I tried later to explain why what I’d been doing was important and why I’d put finishing my paragraph ahead of finding Bubble Guppies. I talked about the importance of other people’s feelings and other people’s stuff. I got a grumpy apology with no genuine empathy behind it, but the seed was planted. Maybe.
Kids are selfish and immature. We talk to them about empathy and accountability as they grow up but a 6 year-old isn’t going to have a solid grasp of these concepts. Calling a child selfish in the heat of the moment doesn’t help them understand what good behavior should look like and it certainly won’t magically elicit future positive behaviors.
Hurling insults in response to something your kid does to frustrate you isn’t discipline. It happens to the best of us: just know it’s probably not going to work.
“You’re immature and selfish and you don’t think about other people besides yourself.”
This statement could describe any of us at some point or another, but come on moms. Think about it. Little kids aren’t wired to worry about other people besides themselves. They are immature because they’re…well, maturing.
And yes, we probably find it easy to condemn the parenting methods of hot mess celebrity moms. But. This is a common problem: selfish kids aren’t exclusive to the rich and famous.
When bratty behavior occurs (and it will) take deep breaths, try not to have a knee-jerk reaction and address the behavior. Find a teaching moment to talk about selflessness and empathy another time in another way. Kids will eventually catch on and tie things together…probably even Farrah Abraham’s kid.
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