Kids Pushing Boundaries

There comes a time in a child’s life when he needs to find his boundaries. He needs to explore right and wrong, discover good and bad, play mom against dad. When these times come it can be difficult for us parents to stay level headed, keep our patience and figure out how discipline.

That word alone, discipline, isn’t talked about much in parenting circles. It’s never discussed in parenting squares or triangles, either. Similar to a teacher’s classroom, disciplining takes on various roles and forms depending on the child. My favorite example is clapping the erasers together to clean them (back in the olden days of chalkboards). For one kid this was something to look forward to. They’d get to outside, away from their classmates and beat the dust out of the erasers. However, for another student it was a chore.

The same can apply to children at home. For one kid, emptying the dishwasher is a chore, while for the other it’s just something do. So finding the right punishment can be trial and error. Sometimes with more error than trial.

When a child decides to push his boundaries and test his limits, the best thing we can do is stand our ground. We are the parents, after all. Now’s not the time to be the best friend. There will be time enough for that later. When I say “no” I mean no. I don’t mean, “go ask your mother but don’t tell her I said no already”. When I come to pick up at school and tell you that when we get home you need to put your laundry away before you go play outside I don’t mean throw your backpack in the door and take off running to go play.

I don’t care how nice it is outside.
I don’t care if your friends are already outside.
I don’t care that you don’t want to put your laundry away.
I don’t care that you think it’s not fair.

So we need to find a punishment to fit the bill. They will be pissed no matter what we dish out, no matter how light the punishment might seem to us. It will pretty much be the end of the world for them.

To give a real example, that laundry putting away incident happened in our house yesterday. I picked up Crash from school and told him we were going home to put laundry away before we played outside. Of course he didn’t like being told this. Once we were home instead of coming in to put said laundry away (a 5 minute task) he tosses his backpack in the door and goes off to play with friends were already in the backyard. I didn’t fight with him then because, for now, it’s just laundry. It’ll be another story, a different battle, when it’s homework.

Later he asked me if he could play on his tablet. I said no. He liked this even less than me telling him he had to put laundry away. Naturally, he asked why. So I told him had lost his table time (except for Epic) and besides, he never put his laundry away like I asked.

He left in a huff.
He put his laundry away (with his brother’s help).
He then went to mom (instead of coming back to me) and tells her he put his laundry away and that I said he could play on the tablet after he had done that. Playing us. Once he was busted the dragons woke.

He was fussed at. He was talked to. He was questioned. However, no formal punished was handed out other than enforcing his no tablet time except for reading. He’s looking for his boundaries and he’s finding out they’re not as far out there as he was hoping. Like I found out when I was his age, his parents aren’t stupid.

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23 thoughts on “Kids Pushing Boundaries

  1. Consequences are tricky. You’re right, it depends on the child and what matters to him/her. It also depends on the level of offense. Is the child deliberately sassing, just for the sake of giving you attitude? Or was it the result of a miscommunication, honest mistake, accident? Some of my methods wouldn’t be valid with most kids, as I’m parenting an ASD tween, and things that other kids wouldn’t even consider worth mentioning are Trauma Central for him. Setting boundaries is so important. But so is being prepared for the inevitable instance of the kids not following them.

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    • Consistency is key. Once you set your boundaries you can’t go changing them. Once you set a rule there have to be consequences for when it is broken. And it’s inevitable that they will be broken. You are right you need to take into account for their age the reason and what exactly happened in order to make your final decision on their punishment. Sometimes it ain’t easy being the judge.

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  2. I am dealing with this a lot right now with my 2 1/2 year old. I ask him not to throw something and he goes and throws it again. I ask him if he wants something, he says no, then actually does want whatever it is I’m holding and whines until I give it to him. When I take away the toy he keeps throwing because he’s lost the privilege for not listening when I said not to throw it, he goes into full meltdown mode. Threatening time outs has been the only thing that has worked so far. He hates time outs. It has definitely been a learning experience for both of us. The worst thing we could do is give in after we’ve already said no. Once the boundaries are set, we must stick to them! 🙂

    Julianne
    Ink & Stitches – http://blog.jhwinter.com

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  3. My five year old refuses to wear anything but shorts and t-shirts — even though the weather has been cold and rainy. I have tried letting him pick his clothes the night before, trying sweatshirts over the t-shirts or long socks and nothing is ever good enough. Everyday it is the same argument and I keep hoping that his common sense will save the day.

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    • We’re going through that with our 4 year old. I’m thankful he gets himself dressed, but sometimes he doesn’t pick out the best clothes for the weather. There’s no changing his mind and we’re not allowed to pick out his clothes. Some battles just aren’t worth the effort 🙂

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  4. When my kids entered middle school, I became the dumbest person they knew and still am today depending on the subject! So awesome when they find themselves coming to me and asking for help or advice on how to fix something they said I would understand.

    Parenthood at its finest! I’v always told mine I’ll always be mom first, friend second.

    Awesome post!

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    • That’s what I tell my two, I’m their parent first, friend second. They have plenty of friends their own age, but I’m their only dad. It’s fun when they think we know something they don’t. I’m still lucky because they’re still at the age where I know everything. Hence, my “Go ask your father” Fridays is going strong.

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    • Yeah, those times they do something wrong but it’s funny as hell, they really can’t be punished for. Right now only the oldest asks the other parent. We’re probably not far from both of them trying it.

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  5. My kids learnt from an early age what the word repercussions means and what two-way-street means. I did this to my kids one time – if he doesn’t put away his laundry, keep it and when he finally needs something clean or his favourite shirt, tell him it’s no longer available and that he’ll have to wear his pajamas to school. My kids “got” that. So now I only have to say the word repercussions and they know it’s not worth the hassle and do what they have to.

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  6. It can be so hard to find the right balance! but you’re completely right, it’s a matter of trial and error where we learn to be parents and they learn to be “them” 🙂

    #fabfridaypost

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    • It wouldn’t be so bad if they were all the same we could just watch some YouTube videos and learn how to be parents. If only… It is nice to hear what others try, though. Then we can try those techniques on our kids and hope they work. Thanks for stopping by!

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    • They’re 10 times stronger together than they are individually. Especially when they’re goal is to drive us bananas. Thanks for having me. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll be there tomorrow 🙂

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