“He’s a baby. He doesn’t know any better.”
This phrase has stuck with me forever. I have heard it so many times, yet the way it is phrased offends me so much.
There are so many things that we don’t know – however, we are all capable of learning things, both as children and adults.
Have you ever felt like your child just didn’t know any better when it came to cleaning the house or putting things away?
Like you should just do it all yourself because they were never going to figure it out, anyway?
Let me tell you something: people are capable. Kids are capable. It’s not that they don’t know any better – it’s that they are still learning.
How many times have you done something that someone scolded you for when it was just that you didn’t know what to do – yet?
How would that have felt different if someone would have explained things to you beforehand, not assuming you had knowledge that you might not?
It may have made a big difference.
When it comes to kids, there are a couple of things that can make it easier when conveying your clean-up expectations.
Give simple but thorough information and explanations.
“The toys go on that low shelf there so that you can reach them” vs. “Time to clean up all your toys!”
“The coats get hung on these hooks when you come in so that we don’t trip over them on the floor” vs. “Get your coats off the floor!”
I often need things explained to me more than once before I understand how to do something. Heck, most of the time I need the hands-on experience of actually doing something before I figure out how to do it! Learning a new skill or routine takes time.
Keep it age-appropriate.
Kids are capable of many things, but start slow. While a 2-year-old may not be able to rinse dishes and load a whole dishwasher, they can likely sort clean and dry silverware into the drawer.
So, next time you find yourself saying “He doesn’t know any better,” reframe it and think “He’s still learning how to do things. I can help him learn.”