My children are 6, 4, and 2 years old. All of them are starting to challenge their boundaries; finding out just how much they can get away with. This leads to many frustrating situations as a parent, to say the least! There seems to be two options for my wife and I when faced with a child begins to push boundaries:
- Create and enforce more rules to make the child adhere to
- Choose what hills we will die on
Our default can often be the former; we get frustrated that supper time is chaotic so we begin to create more rules in an attempt to create order. Things like: You’re allowed 3-sips of milk, no more!, then you must eat one fork-full (a WHOLE fork-full) of veggies, then you may have 1-sip of milk, followed by two bites of meat.
All of a sudden, little Jimmy decides to chug his milk without taking a single bite of veggies, and because we’ve had a long day, we can lose our cool!
The latter option is the foundation that your family needs in order to create a set of family values, rules, and ultimately help determine who your child will be as they grow up.
For instance, one of the hills that Joanne and I will die on is respect. Respect is vital for the development of a healthy relationship in society. It is demanded at school, the workplace, on teams, and most importantly, our relationship with God. This means that we stop making little rules that seek behavior modification (like hair cuts, clothes choices that don’t match, and start defining our family rules based on respect.
Respect means that you eat whatever is put before you at supper time.
Respect means that you talk in a tone that doesn’t hurt other people.
Respect means that when you don’t get your way, you don’t throw a temper-tantrum
Respect means that you look someone in the eye when speaking to them
Respect means you don’t wreck your toys
What hills are you going to die on (hint: you can’t die on them all!)