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Why We Should Treat Our Partners Like Small Children

Why We Should Treat Our Partners Like Small Children


Small children sometimes behave in stunningly unfair and shocking ways. They scream at the person who is looking after them, angrily push away a bowl of animal pasta, throw away something you’ve just fetched for them, but we rarely feel personally agitated or wounded by their behavior. The reason is that we don’t assign a negative motive to a small person. We reach around for benevolent interpretations. We probably think they’re getting a bit tired, or perhaps their gums are sore, or they’re upset by the arrival of a younger sibling. This is the reverse of what tends to happen around our lovers, where we easily imagine deliberate slight stupidity and evil. But if we employ the infant model of interpretation, our first assumption about our partners would be quite different. Maybe they did that annoying or hurtful thing because they didn’t sleep well last night and are too exhausted to think straight. Maybe they’ve got a sore knee. Seen from such a point of view, adult behavior doesn’t magically become nice or acceptable, but the level of offense is kept safely low. Being benevolent to one’s partners in a child [way] doesn’t mean infantilizing them. This is no call to draw up a chart detailing when they’re allowed screen time or to award stars for getting dressed on their own. It means being charitable in translating the things they say in terms of their deeper meaning. “You’re a bastard!” might actually mean “I feel under siege at work”, or “You just don’t get it, do you?” might mean “I’m terrified and frustrated that I can’t explain myself”. The partner’s child theory insists that it’s not a unique failing of one’s partner to discover that they retain a childish dimension. It’s a normal, inevitable feature of all adult existence. Indeed, you’re the same. That’s why some of the moves we execute with relative ease around children must forever continue to be relevant when we are dealing with another grownup. Of course, it’s much harder being kind around another adult whose ‘in a child’ is on display than it is being with an actual child. That’s because you can see how little and undeveloped a toddler or five year old is and so, sympathy comes naturally but we need to look beyond the adult surface of our partners and imagine the turmoil, disappointment, worry and sheer confusion in people who outwardly appear strong and grownup but aren’t so much. We’re so alive to the idea that it’s patronizing to be thought of as younger than we are. We forget that it’s also at times, the greatest privilege for someone to look beyond our adult self in order to engage with and forgive the disappointed, furious, inarticulate or wounded little person who resides within.

100 thoughts on “Why We Should Treat Our Partners Like Small Children

  1. This video is not saying that you shouldn't question the childish behavior of your partner. It is saying that you shouldn't always demonize your partner when they act poorly, the same way you would if a child was throwing a tantrum. The annoying things that your partner does may not come from this evil intention to hurt you, but it may be due to their own internal dialogue. Maybe they find it hard to explain, or maybe they are stressed out, and it comes out all wrong.

    I guess he is saying that you need to be persistent in looking deeper into why your partner does what they do. This is a psychology channel so many of his purported answers to life's problems go past the surface of, "he's just an immature jerk" or "she's just a childish bitch." Now I think the next video should be about patience because all of this requires a ton of it.

  2. This is how I've always treated all people I know or meet. It really makes your life easier and relationships less stressful when you recognize nobody sees themselves as the bad guys. On the other hand it makes you very good at noticing when you are behaving irrationally and makes you realize how you should behave and how your words or actions make other people feel.

  3. Hahaha! This is funny. It's pretty much telling people to accept drama. Dont like their behaviour/personality/actions, just leave. So simple.
    That and there's a difference between unconditional love between offspring and SO.

  4. It's all maturity levels and mental status. Most children that scream, hit, and do bad things, either do them for attention or lack of parental intervention with structure and discipline.
    When a child grows up spoiled like that they become an immature adult. They don't know anything except their hobbies, likes, and dislikes, and even though they can appear mature they behave like children. Like women who flip out because their boyfriends/husband is cutting off their over spending, or a man that flips out because someone got something they wanted and felt they were entitled to get it.

  5. It might sound nice and romantic but this advise can be disastrous.

    Thinking of your partner like a child and putting up with their bullshit is the quickest way for you to let them know that they can keep on doing what they do to you. They will continue with that childish behaviour because you keep putting up with it.

    It is much more healthy to encourage open and mature communication in your relationship. Like adults should.

  6. I have no problem empathizing with my partner under this light, I feel that I have almost an infinite source of compassion and tenderness that I can tap into. However, the issue for me is the reaction I get to being so understanding and accepting of my partner. My kindness is taken for granted and I'm treated in belittling ways. Unfortunately, doing the right thing doesn't always equate to getting the right results.

  7. Im willing to translate this video to Portuguese, so my partner would get a better idea of me and of my cries. May I "School of Life"?1 second ago•

  8. I have tendency to assume the best intentions when a man is attractive (he doesn't need to be Gay, it is just based on the look, not on the actual chance to ever get reciprocal feeling).

    Such great looking man can not be really mean! If he appear unfair, I will try hard to study the motivations and explain.

    Conversely, any adult who remind me the unfair kids that harassed me at school are assumed to be naturally incompatible. It is a waste of time to even try to expose their behaviors. That would just encourage them to retaliate forever.

  9. i think what they're trying to teach is is that we often take everything our partner says or does to be extremely personal, but we forget that they too have their own unique set of motives, fears, etc that drive them to the decisions they make, we might exercise this sort of compassion already with friends and family, but we can expect too much emotional perfection from our partners, the kind that probably doesn't exist in ourselves in the first place. don't literally treat your partner like a child, but practice the same compassion then observe if its effective for you both.

  10. I agree completely with this, there are some people i know that i just wanted to hug and let them tell me whatever is wrong for them to act that way. But there are limits, and we have to know the difference between this and an abusive relationship. So be loving,and be careful too guys. <3 awesome video

  11. i see comments saying "adults should act like one", but they forgot that not all adults are perfect, moreso all the time. sometimes we are just so exhausted to the point rationality is discarded. i think the advice of this video should be applied where an adult is usually mature most of the time, but become irrational or have sudden outburst sometimes.

  12. I feel like this attitude teaches us to tolerate poor behavior and immaturity in our partner, and settle for less than we deserve. Sure, we all have bad days and it's important to be compassionate and understanding. However, it is also your partner's responsibility to communicate what is wrong, like an adult, rather than lashing out at you because they have poor coping mechanisms.

  13. I don't know when this concept occurred to me…but I crafted the idea long ago. Its doing a mind-fu*k on oneself in order get in touch w/ our  higher humanity. We are very harsh and unforgiving toward each other but remembering people as children or babies allows us to connect more easily. & to take everything so much less personally. It's like the public speaking trick of imagining ur audience naked or just as vulnerable or compromised as you. Seeing people in the context of little ones makes so many things instantly ok & unbothersome (not  a real word). & that is the biggest benefit of this trick. The less bothered u are…the less focus one places on unsavory attributes & acts & the more one can focus their higher energy & thought forces on the lovely & higher, more pleasing qualities of another. & that ability makes all the diff in the world.

  14. What he's getting at is the concept of "benefit of the doubt." (The philosophical concept upon which our legal system is based.) We give children the benefit of the doubt. The doubt is that we don't really know what's causing their misbehavior. If we knew they were evil little Hitler psychopaths, there would be no doubt, and maybe we'd hate them. If we KNEW they were little angels who were reacting to being hurt in the only way they know how because they're babies, there would be no doubt about their goodness, and we'd keep loving them. But we don't know. It could be either. There is doubt. But whenever that is the case, we allow the baby to benefit from the doubt. …
    This guy is saying we should afford that same benefit to other adults when there is doubt. That doesn't mean continue on naively believing what has been made untenable by evidence. Once the doubt has been removed, go by the evidence. But when the truth is not completely clear, when it is possible to think well of a person, give them the benefit of the doubtfulness.
    To do otherwise is immoral. In the legal system the benefit of the doubt is also called the "presumption of innocence." And you're all probably familiar with the phrase "innocent until proven guilty." Or even "innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Our legal system is based on that principle because educated men of the time of our founding fathers were versed in moral philosophy, and understood that affording benefit of the doubt is a moral imperative, the absence of which is Tyranny.
    In relationships we often treat each other as Tyrants, because we don't afford each other the benefit of the doubt. We don't presume them innocent when they have not yet been proven guilty.

  15. I remember when I was 5 and told my parents stuff about science , they told me I was wrong, 12 years later and I found out they were dumbasses.

  16. what about seeing children as people who need guidance, instead of mindless drones to shape and tell what to do. if adults are just grown up kids then kids are just ignorant adults who need respect too. i see so many videos trying to shape our understanding of adults and parents. but adults need to take the time to understand their kids too instead of getting mad at them. kids are disrespectful characters, teach them by showing them respect instead of telling them and expecting them to get it. telling them what respect is, isn't going to help if they don't know what it looks like.

  17. YOU GUYS ARE MISSING THE POINT. What they're saying is not to literally treat your partner like a child. They're saying that, like a child, there are underlying reasons behind misbehavior. Like if a child is hungry, it will start to act up. The reason is not because the child is an asshole, it's just because of the underlying reason – it's hungry. Same with your adult partner, if they shout at you or insult you or randomly appear angry, it's not because they're assholes, it's because there may be problems at work, deeper emotional issues, etc. So don't hold it against them, talk about it and understand that they don't do it out of a place of hatred, but a place of frustration.

  18. Well on a side note…there are adults out here that actually ACT like small children and don't give a damn about doing anything with their lives. I refuse to be someone's "parent" in a relationship.

  19. Having a hurt knee is no excuse for one to scream and yell at another, or to call them nasty names. An adult is an adult for a reason, adults should have a more rational and healthy ways to handle pain, stress, worry, etc then to throw a fit and be rude ESPECIALLY in a relationship. And dismissing their behavior instead of telling them to cut it out or talk with more respect is not going to do any good, it will only allow them to think their behavior is acceptable. I do understand that the basic message is: don't get offended, they're only rude because something else is going on; but still. You having a shit day does not make it okay to scream at someone else undeserving. Even when they do deserve it, yelling and insulting language does not improve the situation at all. A clear and straightforward talk does. Naps help too.

  20. Well kids are cute thats why they get away with it. Same as a really hot chick can get away with shit towards guys. Is this video suggesting people shouldnt be punished. So if a murderer kills someone we should say there just having a bad day its ok. I call this video bullshit

  21. Im not a huge fan of how they say or mention that only an adult would be watching this video and have relationship troubles. I mean, im twelve right now and im watching this. I have had one girlfriend, still do. Im on their channel to see how me and her can become closer, its really hard at this age

  22. 90% of adults are children walking around in adult bodies. And that's a conservative estimate. I think the number is closer to 99%.

  23. Or we could all realize that our actions have consequences and not take things out on our other people. Why would I treat my co-workers, for whom I care much less than my husband, with grace and care and then go home and not exercise the same restraint for the person I love?

  24. This is an absolute bull shit!!! "…the level of offence is kept safely low." ??? Speak for yourselves! If somebody attacks me verbally or is nasty to me because they slept bad last night or their knee hurts (WTF?) without me ever provoking such harsh reaction, then I am offended, regardless whether I know their personal circumstances or not! PERIOD!

  25. When your partner gives you shit for no particular reason, give them a pass? I say BULL-SHIT!! You don't need to be someone's punching-bag. If they're getting abused elsewhere,what gives them the right to take it out on you? You're having a shitty day, so you get to fuck up my day? MY ASS!! Grow your ass up and handle your problems like an ADULT! ..I will do the same for you. Love is controlling your angry impulses and not mentally abusing the people that love you. (because you had a bad day) If someone claims to care for you and they attack you over something unrelated to you, that person is an ASS-HOLE and you should get away from them as soon as possible.If you sit still for that type of mental abuse,it will only escalate to physical abuse. NOBODY should be the victim of other people's BULL-SHIT for no reason.Least of all,someone who claims to love and care for you and your wellbeing.

  26. I see a lot of hot debate down here, and somebody might have already mentioned. the question is, where do you draw the line? I am very patient and understanding I think or could say not care, but sometimes I do. I want to be treated like a respected person in home. I can understand why some people can be grumpy and snap at you for small thing because they are having rough time but being able to control the temper, understanding their own situation and not taking it out on one of most important person in their life should not be OK thing, I believe everybody should try to improve themselves and if one is always accepting childish behaviors it's just not good for anyone

  27. For all those who can't get over the title – the video is not saying to talk to angry people as though they are children, it's saying that just because you're older than a child doesn't mean your physiology is any different, and you're still prone to aggression when tired/hot/thirsty/hungry. Knowing this about yourself and others can help you to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Simple 🙂

  28. the difference between a child and your partner is that your partner should be mature enough to not use you as a trash can for their negative emotions, instead expressing them to you maturely like the adult they should be

  29. I'm glad I found this. I'm extremely guilty of taking every little thing my husband does personally, whether it's yelling because he's stressed about work or yelling because I said something insensitive. Hate to break it to you guys, but adults are very childlike. It's easy to see this manifest itself in partners because of familiarity.

  30. The way we treat the children, we do it with care, being sensitive about what they feel and being understanding to the deepest. These are the things too that are essential for every relationship. So yeah, I guess thinking that your partner is a child that is fragile, you could treat him/her properly.

  31. Sol–im not sure that I understand where you're coming from–is it that we should not take it personal when someone is behaving odd (irrational, emotionally, etc) as they are just having trouble expressing themselves & getting others to understand?

  32. Yes, everyone has different levels of maturity but adults are different from children because they know better. Through experience, they do not see the world in black and white. They learn the importance of efficient communication, emotional intelligence, etc.. I agree with The School of Life that we should suspend judgement when looking at our partners behavior, be more understanding and compassionate, and approach with an open-mind because everyone are wounded souls.

  33. But isn't it disappointing and tiring to always be the partner who forgives and the only one who treats his significant other delicately as a child while not receiving the same treatment and the same amount of understanding ?

  34. I learned to treat my parents this way, and it made our family relationship much more smooth, since we both aren’t reacting like children.

  35. i don't understand why people have such a hard time coming to terms with the fact that child likeness remains inside them for their whole lives. the people we turn out to be as adults depend ENTIRELY on the way we were treated as children by our parents. furthermore, adulthood is merely taking on all the responsibilities necessary to live independently. this has nothing to do with our natural human tendencies to want to be understood and validated. people who take themselves so seriously as grown adults who are getting upset about this video are probably the people who need empathy the most.

  36. If you treat an adult as forgivingly as a child, don't you enable them to stay immature?
    If you never show them the consequences of their behaviour in the grown-up world, (which is more difficult than a child's world) then why would they bother to "grow up"/ take responsibility/etc.?
    Isn't it making life a bit too comfortable for them?

  37. If you're an adult human being you should be expected to behave rationally and it's justified to be angry with someone who isn't

  38. But what if they show this behavior quite often? You try to explain, calmly, what've been bothering you, but they just refuse to listen, have always an excuse about how they've been busy, or having a bad time… It starts to be a one sided relationship, and no one diserves that.

  39. Are you serious? Most of the time adults dont take what a child does serious, but regardless beats them insted of explanations like sore gums. Normally ppl treat their partners better than their children, bc most of the time they can beat the children and they cant do anything about it, but if you beat your partner he or she might hit you back.

  40. That is a crazy bad idea. It sets up a false choice. Reject or treat as a child. Confronting undesirable behaviour with reason and conversation is crusial and the only way to understand and resolve irrational behavior long range.

    You don't need to treat an adult as a child or reject them out of hand as flawed. You can talk, reason and understand.

  41. But this is just a sign of emotional immaturity. You should not be coddling someone who can't communicate to you what they're actually feeling in an effective manner. It does nothing to reach a solution and forgiving the negative behavior would likely cause it to increase.

  42. I think I've seen a roleplay version of this also made by The School of Life. They've also included a child there wherein the guy was taking care of the child the whole day however when the wife (I assume) comes home, she was ranting about something.

    I am trying to find it, however I find no luck.

    If someone does remember the exact title of it, can you please link me to that video again? Thank you very much! ♡

  43. this makes a lot of sense to me . i've had girlfriends (im not married) that after we fought, i.e. if we ever did , or when one of us was having a shit day we would rather , kind of baby each other . it would go back and forth depending on whom was having a shit day etc… and let me tell you , "it would make me feel a lot better" whether i was babying her or she was me . it's all psychological (obviously) and i think i do it naturally . even with buddies of mine i do this , (in a different way of course) . i think it narrows down to empathy and taking a step back for a moment to assess mine and their position especially when they are coming at me because they've had a shit day etc . sorry im babbling .
    take care everyone.

  44. When you are dealing with an adult who behaves like a child, just walk away because it's not likely that person will listen to you.

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