He doesn't care about my feelings

i want him to be independent and self sufficient, but right now i have a 4yo who almost always wants to be carried and who doesn't seem to care about anyone else's feelings or desires

No, 4 yos generally won't care about other people's feelings and desires.

We can't make people care about our feelings. And in fact making them act as though they cared, especially when we're trampling on their feelings and desires to make them act like our feelings are important, is likely to have the opposite effect.

Yes, I know, if feels like we do nothing but give! And that we should be able to expect something in return. But I think part of the problem is that all our giving and sacrificing is done silently. From the point of view of kids we want to do all the things we're doing. They know we have the freedom (within the law) to do whatever we want since we don't have anyone telling us what to do. So why would we do anything we don't want to?

First, I don't think we should be sacrificing for kids. We should be doing for them because we want to.

Often times we feel put out because we feel like we don't have a choice. We may think of dinner in terms of having to cook it. But if we think of it in terms of wanting to provide a meal for our family that's healthy (or cheaper or more nurturing or more convenient or .. than other options), then cooking dinner is not a have to any more. It's a choice. If we can realize we do have a choice in all matters, that we can choose not to do something or choose from other options, then it's easier to choose the best option for the situation.

Second, I think we should be honest when something is important to us and share why it's important. Not to convince them, but to share our feelings about something. We can share our feelings of being disappointed that we have to delay doing something we wanted to do that's more fun and wish that there were a way to get the benefits of the important thing without the sacrifices. (And seriously consider the alternatives kids might offer. They can see things in ways we don't often!) Again, not to convince them that they too need to shove down their feelings of disappointment at giving up what they want to do. If they have to give something up they should be disappointed! And we should offer something in return for the sacrifice they made for us. (A trip to a favorite park? Ice cream? A snuggle on the couch with hot chocolate and a movie of their choosing?)

If we want them to treat us gently when they inconvenience us, then we need to model that and treat them gently when we inconvenience them.

 
 
 
Last updated: April 2009