We were visiting friends when an amazing thing happened. Their 18 month old asked, “Mom and Dad, I know you slap my hand when I touch that fragile vase on the bookcase but I’m wondering if I’m allowed to touch it now? Will you do something while your friends are here?”
Pretty astounding that an 18 month old had such verbal fluency, right?
Actually, she didn’t ask the question by talking. She just walked over to the vase, looked back at dad and mom and then reached out to touch it.
So what do you do now dad and mom? Your 18 month old just asked you a question.
A lot of disobedience is kids just trying to find their boundaries. Not the boundaries you talk about but the real ones.
A real boundary is where a parent stops talking, threatening, counting, warning, giving chances, etc and starts taking action. Only real boundaries produce obedience.
And kids are like addicted gamblers who may lose $50 0n 50 bets in a row but if they win $5 on the 51st try they’ll keep playing because they are “winning”.
If kids get away with something 1 out of 5 times, they’re willing to gamble that the next time you tell them to do something you won’t enforce it. They’ll gamble that this is the time you won’t follow through.
Every time they “win the bet”, every time they disobey and nothing happens, it reinforces their belief and encourages them to continue playing the game.
If you say, “don’t touch“, then that better be your real boundary – or don’t say it.
That means if you child “touches” you must take action.
You said don’t touch so you can’t wait until he touches it twice or picks it up or drops it.
If you say, “Be in by 11:00 pm” then 11:10 is late and earns negative consequences.
When your child decides to play the slot machine to see if you’ll enforce the rule you better make sure he loses every time.
In reality, when you do consistently enforce your word, your child is the big winner.
And so is everyone around him.
Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.