One of the first times that Ray and I heard this teaching put in this way (i.e. negative behavior is often a result of boundaries being widened too soon in an area(s)), we were with a group of about a dozen parents. The speaker expounded on the terrible results of giving children their own way when they are not happy without getting their own way.
Afterwards, as we parents spoke among ourselves about the lesson, I remember saying, “Wow! I’m glad we learned early on not to give our kids their own way when they are unhappy about not getting their own way. That sounds like a disaster!”
The other parents, almost in unison, said, “What do you mean? We give our kids their own way to keep them quiet all the time!”
It was at that moment that, in addition to being reminded once again of how blessed we were to have mentors in our lives early on, I realized how ingrained it is within parents to simply do whatever it takes to have peace, not considering that the momentary peace they get in that scenario (replayed over and over again) results in long-lasting chaos and struggle.
There are many “signs” that our child is not ready for the boundaries to be released—signs that our child is not happy when he doesn’t get his own way in a certain area and, thus, should not have the boundaries released:
1. Tantrums (screaming, crying, flailing—you know the drill) when you tell him no or he cannot have what he wants at the time
2. Saying no to you (don’t let this start…it’s an extremely bad habit)
3. Rolling the eyes, slamming a door, back talking, etc. in older children
4. Complaining about not getting something or not having things be the way he wants them
5. You find yourself making excuses for your child’s behavior all the time (he didn’t get his nap; he is hungry; he woke up too early; he woke up too late; he didn’t understand the instructions; the other party just didn’t listen to him; etc. etc.)
6. You feel a desire to avoid being with your child—running around; leaving him or her with Grandma or a sitter; feeling a need to put him in preschool early; etc.
7. Others feel a desire to avoid being with your child
This benchmark, If a child is not happy when he does not get his own way, he should not get his own way, will become obvious to us if we truly want it to be; it will be clear to us if we desire to parent in a way that raises sons and daughters to be content, obedient, respectful, and more.
Tomorrow: how to go about bringing in the boundaries when needed.