Why “Act normally!” is a bad thing to tell your kid?

Imagine your little one, once again sitting at the dining table: knees up, playing “drums master” with her fork and plate… An immediate reaction which comes to mind is: “Stop it! Act normally!”. However, while “stop it!” (preferably with an explanation) is a perfectly appropriate phrase; saying “act normally!” is not … and here is why:

Obviously – what is “normal”? Who defines “normal”? Normal for the society? But do you really accept all the societal norms? Why did you pick that particular one to adhere then?

See, normal is in general tricky. Universal normal doesn’t exist. And for the kid you are definitely sending a confusing message. Admit it: you don’t have a good definition of normal for yourself. How can you then expect your kid to get it?


You might also be interested in Square peg in a round hole: Why it is perfectly normal not to fit the norm


It goes further. Let’s assume the “normal” you meant was: behaving in a way it “looks good”… And here we are trapped even more. Are you sure that “looking good” should be the criteria which guides the decisions of your kid?…

So you see, however tempting it would be to just shout: “act normally!”, that rather hurts your kid’s perception of the world than helps her to understand what you meant. 

I am no ideal here either, as sometimes I catch myself at this exact wording. Yet, when I do, at least I try to somewhat rectify the situation by providing a more elaborate explanation of why this or that is wrong and how should she better act.

What do you think? Do you ever use this phrase yourself?

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One thought on “Why “Act normally!” is a bad thing to tell your kid?”

  1. I totally agree. When I was growing up, my mom always said to me, “Why did you do that? What is wrong with you?” Finally, when I got a little older, I said, “Mom, there’s nothing wrong with me.” and she finally realized what she had been saying to me all those years. I’ve tried very hard to never say that to my kids but well, with two 17 year olds, it’s bound to slip out once in a while! LOL

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