ParentMagic Newsletter by Dr. Thomas Phelan © 2011
Many parents and teachers carry around in their heads a trouble producing
notion about young
children. This idea is a kind of false
assumption or wish that causes
discipline attempts that don’t work,
along with stormy scenes that make
everyone feel bad. This erroneous
concept is known as the “Little
The Little Adult Assumption is the belief that kids have hearts of gold and that
they are basically reasonable and unselfish. They’re just smaller versions of
grownups, in other words. And because they are little adults, this notion goes,
whenever the youngsters are misbehaving or not cooperating, the problem
must be that they don’t have enough information at their disposal to be able to
do the right thing.
Imagine for example, that your eight‐year‐old son is torturing his little sister for
the fifteenth time since they got home from school. What should you do? If
your boy is a little adult, you simply sit him down and explain to him the three
golden reasons why he shouldn’t tease his sister. First of all, teasing hurts her.
Second, it makes you mad at him. Third—and most important—how would he
feel if someone treated him like that?
Your son looks at you, his face brightening with insight, and he says, “Gee, I
never looked at it like that before!” Then he stops bothering his sister for the
rest of his life. That would certainly be nice, but any veteran parent or teacher
knows that scenes like that don’t happen. Kids are not little adults.
Kids Are Born Unreasonable and Selfish
The crucial point here is this: Grownups who believe—or want to believe—the
Little Adult Assumption are going to rely heavily on words and reasons in
dealing with young kids and trying to change their behavior. And words and
reasons, by themselves, are going to be miserable failures much of the time.
Simple, straightforward parenting advice and helpful tips from Dr. Phelan’s award-winning, best-selling 1-2-3 Magic Parenting Program.
To learn more visit 123Magic.com .