A list of common microagressions against small kids

Parenting is hard work, and kids can be difficult, and I have another post I’m working on at the moment about that stuff. But also, kids are great, and our world is pretty harsh on them, and that makes me feel angry on their behalf and it makes me feel extra loving towards them all – little darlings, trying to figure it all out, doing such a good job on the whole. Here are some common examples of how our culture is disrespectful towards kids. Feel free to add in the comments.

  • Telling them you’re going to do something nice and not following through. I do this sometimes forgetfully, but it’s also seen as acceptable to do it on purpose. A bribe that never eventuates. It’s so mean!
  • Threatening them with something really bad, in order to get them to comply. They don’t know it’s an empty threat! All they see is an adult telling them to clean the room or you’re going to break the toys. And what sort of parent would actually break the toys?! That’s the sort of parent they think you are if you make the threat.
  • Tricking them into eating things, like lying about what is in a food so that they take a big bite thinking it’s something yum and then it’s something new and unfamiliar and now it’s in their mouth, when they didn’t get a chance to decide that for themselves. Such a dick move. People do this all the time with kids. (Presenting food in novel ways to try and make them appetising, like grating a new vegetable into a fritter then letting them decide whether to eat it, is totally different).
  • Reassuring them you’re not going to do something they don’t like, then springing it on them just when they’re trusting you not to, with the justification that it needs to be done. They’re going to feel betrayed, that’s horrible. Don’t tell your kid that the injection isn’t going to hurt, that just makes it worse!
  • Asking them to be physically affectionate to strangers when they might not want to. This is also pretty shitty in terms of teaching them consent.
  • Ignoring them when they talk or try to interact with adults. Pretending they’re  not there.
  • Talking about them to other adults, when the can hear and can understand, in a way that doesn’t consider their feelings.
  • Telling them not to do something without explaining why not or suggesting an alternative activity. Telling them no gratuitously. Often kids are told not to do something for no reason at all – arbitrary boundaries being rigidly enforced for the sake of trying to assert authority.
  • Getting frustrated at them for doing something that is entirely age-appropriate, and expressing that to them in a way that makes them feel bad. The little dude is at creche today, which means that Mr Daddy took him there on the bus this morning, and I got a text from him outraged that someone on the bus had told the little dude not to be rude and disruptive. He’d been drawing in the window steam and singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. A stranger thought that was a) rude, and b) that he was entitled to do something about it.
  • Reprimanding them for doing something that they don’t know is wrong yet. The first time the kid tips his waterbottle on the floor, he didn’t necessarily know that the floor was going to get wet and messy, he was figuring that out.
  • Insulting children as a class, calling antisocial behaviour by adults “childish”, and especially doing this in the presence of kids.

2 thoughts on “A list of common microagressions against small kids

  1. I have been thinking a lot recently about consent and teaching it in children. I actually spoke with a woman for my podcast (the latest one Sarah) who works with Autistic kids about consent in kids. Its so important and I found on the weekend when babysitting a friends 1.5 year old (hes met us a few times but doesn’t really know us) and the dad saying ‘give Lizzie a kiss’ or ‘give Lizzie a cuddle’ and of course the baby didn’t want to and I was like ‘no its totally fine you don’t have to’… this is a bit incoherent sorry.
    Its really tricky too because there are certain things you just have to do as a parent with a child but when you start asking them permission and they start saying no you have to respect that. All so difficult. I was talking to my Mum about it after she listened to the podcast because as a Nurse she always says to the little children ‘Is it ok for me to take your temperature now’ etc but then when it comes to injections you kind of can’t ask a kid because they’re not going to say yes.
    But it is such an important thing to start because what happens when adults have always just been ‘right’ and doing things to kids because they’re the adults and then a terrible adult does something unforgivable to a child. They’re not going to feel ok speaking up or saying something is not ok because they’ve been taught that adults know best.
    xx Lizzie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, it’s so important, but also kinda complicated. I think you’re mum’s right not to ask when the answer might be no, partly because if we get a no as a first answer but then cajole and push for a yes, that really doesn’t send a good message either. In our house there is a major tension between 2 year old consent and dental hygiene 😉


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