Limits

January 18th, 2011

As Josh mentioned, Miss Mouse spends large amounts of time perfecting her Nemo Look. It drives me pretty crazy, I have to say. There’s something about willful defiance that is calculated to make even the most serene of parents (and I’m not claiming to be one) go insane. Calling her on it is pretty exhausting, too. It’s so tempting to ignore her when she hits me or smacks her frying pan on something she’s not supposed to because getting her to hold still in a time out is quite an adventure by itself.

There are nights where I feel like if I held her accountable for every act of disobedience, we’d be locked in a vicious and un-ending cycle of time-outs! One time out for the initial offense. Then additional consequences for getting up from her time out and for hitting me when I try to make her return to her time-out spot. There’d be no end.

But I had an epiphany the other day that has helped. Josh and I were talking about our darling Rat Baby and I said — “She certainly is testing her limits these days.

And then I paused because something about saying it out loud really made it click. She is testing her limits. Which means — and here’s the kicker — she wants there to be a limit. She is two years old and she is learning the rules of her world. The way that she finds out what is acceptable and not is through trial and error. And more trial. And more error.

I would not be doing her any favors if I didn’t help her learn about limits. Children whose parents let them run rampant are not happier. If anything, they are less happy because they lack the security of knowing what is expected — and allowed — of them.

And so we will continue to call her on her misbehavior ten times, twenty times, a hundred times a day. I’m not saying we’ll do a hundred time-outs a day, but we will continue to help her learn what is acceptable and what is not.* For her sake as much as ours.

*More posts on this topic forthcoming.

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