When it comes to children, they are born to push the boundaries. They won’t truly know what the boundary is or what it does or what it is there for unless they get close to it, then feel it, then step on it, then go straight over that line.
Children will always at some point push those boundaries. You may think at the time it is simple to let things slip, easier to allow them something just this once, however hard persistent continual work is absolutely vital to your children understanding the boundaries. Children need them and yearn for them eventually,
Without boundaries, or with you sitting a boundary and not sticking to the rules, your child will grow to ignore your rules, to scream and shout, cry and stamp their feet when they don’t get their own way, they will misbehave more and be disrespectful. Their behaviour will be hard to manage.
I have 2 girls, 6 and 7. If you’ve read my previous posts you will know the older one is not our birth child, but our child through a guardianship via the courts. Now L was brought up and her needs were not met, she screamed constantly (sometimes she still does) and her anger has not been controlled. Firstly she has speech and language developmental issues. The birth parents should have spotted this as young as 2 and learn to interact with her in a different way or learn to take more time to figure out her emotions, this way she wouldn’t have felt so frustrated and therefore she wouldn’t constantly be pushing the boundaries.
A few months back she was in a bad mood because she refused to eat her breakfast and it was now time to leave. I told her at the 5 minute mark she should hurry, but she didn’t. She was now crying, I explained these are the consequences for not listening, we cannot be late for school, you had plenty of time, something like half hour to finish your fruit but you chose not to, therefore you will now go without. Simple. Maybe tomorrow you will make sure you prioritise.
We get to the front door, she is still screaming like the world is coming to an end. We get in the car and she won’t put her seatbelt on. She then kicks my seat. I told her ‘No, do not kick my seat’. So what does she do? She does it again. Because she is in a bad mood and this means she will do the opposite to whatever you say. I said to her ‘if you kick my seat again, you will be getting out of the car and you will be walking to school, which you don’t want as it’s the other side of town’
Now, when I say something, I will stick to it. When I said this, I hoped she would not do it again. I didn’t think before I spoke about the fact that I would also have to walk that very long journey.
… she only went and kicked my bloody seat again didn’t she.
Out the car she got … with a fight, kicking and screaming. She went back in the house and stayed with dad whilst I rove my other daughter to her school. It’s pointless them both being late. I drove back home and away we went, walking to school, walking … walking … walking.
She moaned about her legs all the way, she got slower and slower but I didn’t slow down. It meant she got to the point where she would fall behind and then run to catch you up. Then she figured that she would run 10 steps ahead so she could walk slower as I would be behind her. Secretly I found it amusing but of course you must not show this on your face.
It took us an hour to walk to school, it was cold, she was tired but I hoped she would learn her lesson. The point is, I explained a consequence as a warning if she was to repeat her bad behaviour. If. I stuck to the fact that I didn’t want the aggro of walking there myself and took her in the car, all I have taught her is ‘when I ask you to stop, you can carry on, you can put us all in danger when in the car, you can kick my seat when I’m driving and you can also not eat your seatbelt and scream for the whole journey’. Plus if a tantrum this time lasts half hour until you give in, then next time they will be prepared to scream for 3 hours until you cave and the next time will be 6 hours.
So, the moral of this blog is a few things: do not give empty threats, ignore bad behaviour or give a consequence, but if you give a consequence DO NOT go back on your words.
And finally, think about what the consequence is before it comes out your mouth. Do not say ‘if you don’t stop, you will not go to Johns party’ and then take them anyway. And do not say ‘if you kick the back of my seat again you will be walking to school unless you are prepared to do it’
And don’t forget, it was only when I got to school that I realised I had that whole bloody journey back again all by myself. Technically I had twice the punishment she did. But I stuck to it and whilst she accompanied me to school, I referenced how much I loved walking. Haha.