Recently I overheard the sweetest conversation between a grandfather and his granddaughter. She is the daughter of my neighbors. He’d come over to watch her and her little sister. The little 2 1/2 year old wants to drink from a glass while outside. Grandpa is firm but so sweet, as he repeatedly tells her she cannot have glass outside. She must have a plastic cup because she may drop the glass, it could break and she could hurt herself. She does not understand. She is not old enough to connect the dots of what may happen. She does not have the experience or reasoning ability at her age to think of possible consequences or to even know what glass is and the dangers of mixing it and concrete.
With no to her demands she turns on the tears and throws a tantrum. Grandpa patiently and calmly tells her, “Tears will not get you what you want sweetheart. I must keep you safe.” She still does not understand but his loving and patient tone of voice has a calming effect. After a moment or two she quiets down, happy with her plastic cup. She returns to playing as if nothing happened.
Little children do not know what is best for them. They don’t come into life knowing anything. We must teach them, everything! From the dangers of glass on concrete, to how to communicate effectively, to how to be respectful, to how to read and write. Children are beautiful, empty vessels, eager to learn. We, the adults in their lives, choose how to teach them so they learn in the best ways possible. We choose to either let frustration over their lack of ability. Or we choose patience because they are empty vessels eager to learn. I believe choosing the loving way is the best way to raise loving, patient and responsible people.