Sunday, June 17, 2012

Setting Limits

Two things.

First, I welcomed Connor home from camp this evening. He was a few shades browner than when he left home, but came in with a grin on his face and a bounce in his step.
I missed that kid these last four days. But I knew what a special time camp can be and I was so glad he could be there, especially after his return and hearing a little bit about the fun he had. We had a busy evening, and I didn't get any specifics yet, like was he warm enough? and what was his favorite part of camp? but we'll get there.

Second, I am in the middle of a great book, slightly old but helpful nevertheless, called Setting Limits with your Strong-Willed Child by Robert J. MacKenzie (I highly recommend this book to any parent by the way, not just parents of a stubborn child). It really makes me think about what exactly I am teaching my kids.

I've always thought it counterproductive to holler at your kids to stop hollering, but have probably done it myself, and believe that many parents do not have any idea they are teaching their child the wrong lesson.
"When your words are consistent with your action, your child will begin to tune in to your words and take them seriously" (from MacKenzie's book).

As I've shared before, my middle child is a challenge.
But I've learned a lot of things, especially after starting reading this book.

I've learned that there is nothing wrong with my strong-willed child. There is nothing wrong with me either. The problem lies in matching my parenting methods with my child's temperament. I have a persistent, sensitive, and analytical boy that resists change and tests every boundary multiple times. Basically, he is strong-willed; and raising him is a lot more work than raising my compliant, oldest child.

To quote MacKenzie "children are concrete learners. What they see, hear, touch, and feel determines how they think things really are. Children believe what they experience more than what they are told".

What exactly am I teaching my kids? Am I inadvertently teaching them they can ignore my requests because that is what I let them do? Am I teaching them to holler when they get frustrated and angry?
Am I demonstrating patience and unconditional love?

If only we parents would realize that our words have to match up with our actions, otherwise the words are not even heard! If only every parent would strive to understand their child! If only we would all discipline out of love and respect!


  1. I hope that I do not come across as being the perfect parent. I will be the first to admit to bad parenting practices. I do not come close to practicing what I preach, so to speak. I get angry often. I react before I get my anger in check.
    I am trying. I am learning. I am doing my best.
    And that is what parenting is all about.

  2. I didn't think that at all. I find your blog uplifting to know that I'm not alone in parenting and battles that we have here are elsewhere too.
    I often find myself over acting to a situation instead of logically thinking about what is going on. I too have to try very hard to keep my emotions in check. I've learned that kids do copy everything, weather it's the way you hold the phone when you talk to throwing your head back to laugh or raising your voice to scold. We are all human and each of us reacts differently to what is going on around us. Unfortunately our kids learn from us. All we can do is teach out of love and forgive one another.