As if marriage doesn’t try and stretch our patience enough, having children most definitely does the job. When our child misbehaves or refuses to mind us, what can we do when our patience is being pushed to its farthest limits? How do we handle our little cherubs when they’ve suddenly and inopportunely become unruly, and momentarily diabolical?
Strange as it may sound, these young challengers are striving to gain “social status” via dominance and power over us. Whoever overpowers, triumphs. And this is normal. The golden key, as parents, is to avoid arousing conflict. When they try to cast their spell of disobedience over us, the last methods we should fall back on are persuasion, threats, promises, and force. These will prove not only useless but hurtful to their evolution. If we allow our emotions to take over—and become impatient—they win their clever test of power. And we not only lose our test of patience but, in the larger scheme of things, we fail in properly educating these undercover educators.
Let’s have a look at a marvelous example of parental prowess:
Evidently, the Princess of Wales is exemplary in her patience and strategy (this as her every move is being documented and shown to the world!). She is owning her image and recognizing that Prince Louis has his own too. In a moment like this one, it is clear that what these tiny beings crave more than anything is power
. When they refuse to comply, it is ALWAYS a power struggle. In these moments, as she so elegantly demonstrates, the best and smartest response is to IGNORE
or to DISTRACT
Here Prince Louis is trying to assert his independence and status. He wants to be in charge, and he is forwardly testing what he can get away with and how far he can get away with doing it. (I would say the very same test pops up in a lovers’ quarrel). The best we can do is to honor these clever-cleavers in their path to evolving their identities. And this means setting boundaries patiently and without
being overly emotional in these testing moments.
Boundaries are boundaries when they give children clarity. When they are restless or throw a tantrum, a boundary can be to leave them to themselves, or in this case where the Princess cannot leave, to distract and ignore. A boundary is giving an order or saying “no” only once, before enforcing a consequence and taking action. A lack of boundaries, for example, is spoiling or over-indulging, using aggressive or humiliating approaches, and being inconsistent and repetitive when giving orders.
Why then, I wonder, do grandparents, neighbors, school teachers and babysitters get more leeway than we do as parents? The answer is that with us parents, our children’s identity is at stake. These power-starved rascals are distinctly looking to us for approval, because—quite simply—they came from us. We are the closest thing to them and where they belong. Challenging us and resisting us is a way for them to build an identity for themselves.
By being disobedient, and acting the way Prince Louis does in this video, our brazen kidsters are needing and indirectly asking that we set boundaries in a patient and fair way. By setting clear boundaries, they will assuredly know where they stand. And they will feel secure.