After I'd been working in the backyard for a couple of hours with my nine-year-old grandson, Brad, his seven-year-old sister, Megan, came out to help us. Because Brad had already learned how to do that particular task, he took it upon himself to instruct Megan and "supervise" her work. A little power is tempting, and soon Brad was correcting her small mistakes far more than would truly have been necessary.
I could see that Megan wasn't really enjoying the level of supervision, so unobtrusively I whispered to Brad, "What do you think? Does it look like Megan is enjoying herself?"
Brad thought for a moment and said, "Hmm, I could be a little less bossy, right?"
"It's a thought."
Brad stopped bossing his sister, and we all enjoyed our time together.
When children make mistakes, we assume that we have to correct them. We treat them as though they were too stupid to figure out what works and what doesn't. I'm embarrassed to remember how often I've told my children, "Stop that," or "Quit annoying your brother."
What children really need is our love and instruction–they need us to ask, "What do you think?"–and with that support they will usually make more loving and productive choices.
The same is true with our partners, employees, and others. Loving and teaching are far more effective than criticizing and controlling.
Learn how to Love and Teach
Eliminate criticizing and controlling with your children.