Traits We Accept in Adults but Not Children

As a mother of an energetic and loud seven year old, I often feel as though my son is judged for his temperament. The topic got me thinking, as grown ups we can be grumpy simply because we are hungry, being bossy is a trait we expect our leaders to posess, and having an opinion makes us interesting.

So, what traits do we accept in adults but not in children?

My child is SHY at parties

I have spent many kids birthday parties feeling frustrated because my child suddenly becomes invisible, clinging behind my back. Being social at school, having friends over and playing team sport is never an issue. What is it about birthday parties? One day I asked the question and the reply was …”Mum, I don’t like talking to people I don’t know – and I just don’t like parties”. This made me laugh, because you know what – I feel exactly the same way and suffer from foot in mouth when it comes to idle chit chat with strangers. As an adult you can excuse yourself, hide in the car for school pick up, have other plans or bury your head in your phone. As a child, being antisocial just makes you difficult.

My child has ENERGY

Imagine looking at an adult who runs for hours, rides their bike to work or dances all night thinking “wow they have way too much energy”, like its a bad thing. I wish I had that kind of stamina, but unfortunately that isn’t one trait I am familiar with! When you are a child though, having an excess of energy is a negative – probably because they normally wear us oldies out, but being fit and active should be something to be celebrated. We just have to teach our children to use their energy in the right way, for example kicking a ball around the backyard – rather than fighting with their sibling in the backseat of the car.


My child has an OPINION

I think the phrase “a child should be seen and not heard” is fading out, and I want to teach my children to not just take things at face value and if they want to come to me to talk about something I won’t shut them down. While just like everyone else in society it is important to respect one another and choose the right time and place for discussion, children are often disregarded because of their tiny-ness. While an adult is embraced for having ideas and challenging views, the same cannot be said for children.

My child is GRUMPY

As an adult, when explaining a bad mood it can be as simple and vague as “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed” or “I’ve had a bad day”. Grumpy adults cause us to shrug and leave them alone until they “wake up in a good mood” tomorrow. We might even try to cheer them up. But, when a child has had the same bad day we just cannot seem to leave them alone and give them some space. We insist on homework, on playing with their sibling and may even tell them off for being so irritable. Children need to learn to manage their emotions, just as we do.

My child is having DOWNTIME

We all hear it, how terrible we are at parenting when we hand our kids an iPad. But, just as our parents put us in front of the TV for an hours peace – on occasion it isn’t the end of the world. When an adult needs a break, watches a movie, binges in front of Netflix or has a nanna nap on a Sunday afternoon it is perfectly acceptable. Embraced even. But, just as a child can have too much energy – apparently they can also have not enough. And, for some reason if they are playing a game of Angry Birds it just creates SO much judgement. We all need downtime, adults, children…and even puppies. It’s normal.

My child is BOSSY

Adults who are bossy are normally classed as assertive and strong willed with managerial qualities. Children who are bossy are difficult to deal with, and need to be better followers. Think differently about the kid who is delegating roles to their friends and organising the team, is not just bossy but has leadership potential. We just need to teach that child to work as part of the team too.

Parenting is interesting and in the moment it can be hard to see our children as tiny humans, who have qualities and characteristics they may carry into adulthood. Instead of feeling frustrated and judged by society, just remember – some of their strong characteristics are completely normal human behaviours. This is what makes us all unique.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, let me know in the comments section below…

11 thoughts on “Traits We Accept in Adults but Not Children

  1. I love this article Anna. I think that as parents we are obsessed with the idea of “making our children fit into societal standards” –to fit the box . We worry that they will become outcasts in the world and that this will be a difficult journey of not belonging. Unfortunately schools are mostly institutions which are like sausage machines churning out like minded beings who fit the mould. Experience has taught me that the greatest gift we can give our children is to support their individuality.but if we are also a product of societal conditioning this can be a difficult task for parents and we can make many mistakes on the way. Teaching our children to be loving, caring, kind, thoughtful,considerate, gentle, honest and full of courage can never go astray and these attributes can actually enhance the childs ability to develop individuality and full potential.

  2. Totally enjoyed reading your article Anna.. My children (who are now in their early 30s) were always the quiet ones at other friend’s parties. I often got comments on how well behaved they were to the other children that were there. They were never threatened to behave, I just think they were like me…….quiet and shy.

    It always amazed me the stamina of kids when they have operations. I had my appendix out when I was 21 (great birthday gift) and they get you up real quick after the operation to get you moving. While I was stumbling and holding on to the railing to walk there was a little boy in a gown racing up and down the corridor with me. I commented to the nurse, what is he having done and she replied with. he had his appendix out early this morning.. I guess kids have a no pain barrier.

    I always taught my kids to talk to me whatever was troubling them. Unfortunately,my 8 year old bottled up being bullied by some of her friends. Thankfully, as someone that was bullied herself, I knew the signs and found out what was happening. I think it is even more important today to get your kids to talk to you about anything because bullies come through the forms of technology these days. They call them trolls.

    1. Thank you for your comments Amanda, I loved reading about your own experiences. It is definitely scary being a parent now with all the technology!

  3. I have always told my kids they can be anything they want in life if they believe in themselves and anyone that tries to put them down is jealous of them or have their own problems in life and to just let things said fly past them like a shooting arrow. I also try to install in my kids to lead by example and never be a follower as they are all unique and it would be boring if they were all the same. Being a parent is a constant struggle as I always have to reevaluate myself as well and take a few steps back and be at peace with myself, know I am feeling right in what I am trying to guide my kids into adulthood and beyond.

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