You shouldn’t high-five children because they’re not our equals and they’ll probably start disobeying you if you do, according to a family psychologist.
Author and parenting expert John Rosemond said the high-five is a gesture of familiarity, to be exchanged only between equals.
In an eye-opening column for the Omaha World-Herald, Rosemond explained how he refused to high-five his grandson when he was five years old, much to his adult son’s confusion – adding that respect for adults is important for a child’s character development and the high-five is “not compatible with respect”.
“The child who is allowed to high-five an adult has tacit permission to talk to said adult as if they are peers. Do not wonder why, if you high-five your child, he often talks to you as if you are his equal,” he wrote.
His column concluded: “The more adults and children co-mingle as if they are equals, the more problematic become their relationships. Why should a child obey an adult who high-fives him? And make no mistake, the happiest kids are also the most obedient. The research says so, as does one’s commonsense.”
The thing is, lots of parents – and human beings in general – strongly and respectfully disagree. Myself included.
As the mother of a 14-month-old, I’ve found the high-five a great way to praise our daughter when she’s done something well – for example, when she took her first steps, ate something she’d previously palmed off, or managed to figure out how to put the correct shapes in the holes of her shape sorter. (I know, what a genius!).
I don’t get the impression the odd high-five here and there is reducing her respect for me either as an adult or as her caregiver. If anything, it’s bolstering our relationship and bringing us closer. The beaming face I’m met with when we high-five is proof of that.
Psychotherapist and counsellor Daniel Browne also disagrees with the theory that high-fiving kids is in any way problematic.
“I think actually a high-five can be a really encouraging thing,” he tells HuffPost UK. “If a child does something well or they behave well, then it’s like: ‘Here, have a high five, well done. I’m really happy with what you’ve done or how you’re behaving.’
“And actually that might encourage the child to continue behaving in an appropriate way.”
BRB anyway, just off to high-five my kid for finishing her breakfast.