Browsing Tag

child behaviour

    Family Life

    where to draw the line?

    drawing in the sand

    This is a post by Zanni

    Having a newborn is shocking. It’s like turning inside out and reforming as a whole new person. But sweet belly laughs make sleepless nights and endless nappy changes worthwhile.

    Age one is honey-kissed sunshine. You marvel as your little person totters on unstable feet around the house, like a bowling pin. But oh so adorable. They babble, and start making noises that actually sound like English.

    Age two getts better still. Your bowling pin can now run and somersault and dance. They begin to throw tantrums, but sweet, wet chubby cheeks only make you feel sad for them when they lay on the floor.

    Age three, your toddler is now a child. They can walk, talk, sing in tune, and throw tantrums to the skies. Every child is different, and every parent has a different way of interacting with their child, but for me, age three has thrown the biggest curve balls.

    I am in constant negotiation with someone who is reasonable only half the time.

    This little person has the ability and the desire to say No! Once so obliging, and easy to reason with, my three-year-old holds her ground until I crack, and lose my temper.

    How can her will be so unyielding, in one so very small?

    A friend recently reflected that I have rather loose boundaries. I do? I hadn’t thought much about boundaries. Maybe mine are loose.

    I definitely try not to instruct. Where possible, I want my daughter to make her own decision. Maybe that’s a loose boundary?

    We are pretty lax with things like eating. We encourage her to eat when we can, but we try not to make a big fuss when she doesn’t. We may or may not have come to depend on eating in front on the television or in the car for maximum calorie intake. Loose boundary.

    We have made not a single attempt in the last year to encourage her to go to bed on her own. Nope, still lying there for over half an hour each night while she holds a parent’s ear. Loose boundary.

    I guess boundaries are loose, in a sense. But things like not hitting other children, sharing with others, being kind to others, I am consistently insistent about. Only a couple of times has she raised a fist at another child, and both times I became stern. I wanted her to know without any doubt that I wasn’t happy about it, and neither was the poor child at the receiving end. Generally, she’s extremely socially aware, so there is little opportunity to intervene and reinforce boundaries.

    Tonight, at the dinner table, though, I realised that in certain situations, boundaries are very effective.

    Dinner times have become a bit of a struggle lately. We are eating at the coffee table in the lounge room, as our dining room table is currently stacked to the hilt with boxes, while we renovate. Although I repeatedly ask my daughter to sit still while we eat, and play after dinner, she is climbing all over us, completing craft projects at her craft table and making cake out of play dough. We never really get mad at her. But I have been progressively more insistent about sitting down and finishing dinner.

    Tonight, my husband joined me, and we forged very clear boundaries about dinner time. No playing. Sitting in our own chair. Finishing our dinner. She sat. She ate. No further discussion needed.

    Neither of us particularly cared for such rigidity or formality at dinnertime, but in the chaos of that dinner time hour, I am beginning to appreciate that put in place effectively, boundaries help a child by reigning in unfettered emotions and behaviours. Contain the behaviour, which I guess is exactly what a boundary is – containment.

    Fortunately for us, my child doesn’t need a whole lot of instruction or purposeful guidance. She is a great observer, and as long as we are positive role-models for her, we generally have little trouble. She’s good at working things out for herself.

    But on those occasions when three-year-old behaviours exceed tolerable levels and become a little too wild, clear boundaries, calmly implemented, work.

    Much of this parenting gig has been spent working out where to draw the line. I guess the point is, it changes as quickly as little people themselves change.

    Where do you draw the line? How do you create boundaries?

    {image found here}

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