How to Accept Children as They Are

In order to accept children as they are, it's important to help them foster their strengths and not the ones we want them to have.
How to Accept Children as They Are
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 28 May, 2023

For many parents, it’s difficult to accept their children as they are, especially when the children are different from them and have a lot of character. Therefore, they may feel disappointed because they think their children should be a certain way. As a result, they don’t focus on educating the child to enhance the abilities they possess but try to model them according to their expectations and desires.

In these cases, adults forget that forcing a child to be someone they’re not is a lack of respect, a form of manipulation, and abuse. They must accept that everyone is the way they are and, therefore, they must respect the child’s characteristics and ways of being, without trying to change them. Whether we like it or not, it’s very important that we accept children as they are if we want them to develop good self-esteem.

Accept children and respect their way of being

Surely we all know parents who always watch their children full of concern about what they’re going to do or say or how they behave. Therefore, they tend to always and at every moment judge their children and demand them to be like them. They correct them at every moment and try to change the way they are, their tastes, their character, and their hobbies, among other things.

In these cases, there are parents who, if they like a certain sport or are good at it (or wish they were), want their children to be good at it as well. Therefore, if they don’t like it or aren’t good at it, they discredit and humiliate them. The same thing happens with grades. If parents got good grades in school and their child doesn’t get very good grades, they criticize them and ask themselves, “Who did this child turn out to be?”

For example, when an adult who has soccer skills gets angry because their child doesn’t do well, or a very perfectionist parent who gets upset because their child’s very disorganized. Why do we parents constantly try to make our children be the way we want them to be?

A black father coaching his son in soccer.
We shouldn’t forget that children have their own characteristics and ways of being. We can’t expect them to be the way their parents are or were in the past.

Let children be free

All parents, when we find out that we’re going to have a child, we start to imagine what they’ll be like. And in one way or another, we create an image that isn’t real regarding our future child, which projects all our desires onto them. For example, we want our child to be like us or even reach the goals we were unable to achieve. We expect them to be smarter, be better students, and be skilled in many areas.

In order to fulfill our expectations, we adults put all our efforts into being their best example and molding them to our liking. Even so, there’s one thing we forget: They have their own way of being, with their own tastes, emotions, illusions, and ideas. They may be more or less shy, stronger or weaker, smarter or more innocent, but they are the way they are. So why is it so hard for us to accept them?

As their parents, we have to accept them as they are and help them to evolve. This is because, no matter how much we’ve imagined them in a certain way, they’ll one day take their path and continue down it until the end. So, let’s not force them to be someone they’re not. Instead, let them be free.

Accept children as they are

Parents can help their children with those things that hurt them. For example, with anxiety, laziness, aggressive behaviors, moodiness, depression, autism, hyperactivity, or the motivation they need to do what they like so much. What we shouldn’t do is hammer them every day with the same talk about why it’s better for them to do this and not that.

Our children need their parents to give them the push they need to build their self-esteem and feel fulfilled. It doesn’t matter if they like soccer, dance, art, or technology. It may be difficult for us parents to accept our children as they are, but have we ever stopped to think how difficult it can be for children if we don’t?

A mother hugging her young teen daughter.
As parents, we need to give our children unconditional support and help them develop their strengths.

Know and guide your children properly

You’ve already seen that it’s very important to accept children as they are. It’s very difficult for them to feel that they’re not accepted by their parents. Therefore, it’s important that you direct your efforts to find out what your child’s really like, what their strengths are, what motivates them, and what they like. If you discover the answers, you’ll be able to direct all your strength to guide them in the right way. Also, you’ll be able to accept their failures and celebrate their achievements.

We mustn’t forget that our children are people, not just dreams or desires. Having said this, what really matters when educating and raising children becomes clear. We need to understand them, know them, and guide them.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ramírez, M. A. (2005). Padres y desarrollo de los hijos: prácticas de crianza. Estudios pedagógicos (Valdivia), 31(2), 167-177.
  • Elias, M. J. (2014). Educar con inteligencia emocional: Cómo conseguir que nuestros hijos hijos sean sociables, felices y responsables. DEBOLS! LLO.

The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.