(I think this post has a very uniquely American message, so I apologize if it does not resonate with my international readers as much today.)
Connection between the parent and the child is a huge help regarding discipline and boundaries because that connection IS the basis of all guiding. Connection helps us really know our children and helps us get what makes them “them”; what really motivates them. That is a big help in discipline and guiding and shaping behavior! It also helps that when we are connected to our children that our children really know us intimately too! These children have an incredible feeling of being a vital part of the family, which actually can be a powerful tool: to be a part of a culture and to have intimately seen and known the rules within that family culture are vital and important.
However, here is my beef! If you are a parent and you have structured everything so there is no conflict, your child never hears “no” (and yes, just plain “no”, not a couched “no” with twenty words surrounding the “no”), if you never try to balance your child’s “likes” and “dislikes” or uplift your child to the next level, are always swooping in to rescue your child, well….. I just think you are wrong. Plain, dead, worrisome wrong.
Because I worry about children who never hear “no”.
I worry about children whose lives are so perfectly orchestrated that there are never any tears of frustration. I worry about their future flexibility and resiliency.
I worry about children who count on their parents to buffer them from other adults and other children.
I worry about children who have no boundaries in their own homes – bedtimes, nap times, mealtimes, whose things belong to the parent and can’t be taken and played with, how we treat one another.
I worry about children who never have to follow through on the consequences of doing something wrong, especially for those children aged nine and up. And yes, my friends, sometimes children do things that are just plain wrong. They are learning, just like us.
I worry about children who cannot seem to accept authority from other adults.
I think in America it seems as if the pendulum has tottered from the inherent natural boundaries of the farm, hard work, the rugged individual to lives of relative ease where parents work so hard to provide everything for their children their children have nothing real to cut their teeth on, including boundaries.
Sometimes I do think the larger issue is not that parents don’t necessarily think boundaries are important, but they worry they are being too “authoritarian” and they don’t know HOW to set boundaries. It seems to me the way we try to set boundaries in our society is to talk our children to death, to treat them as miniature adults with less experience (so therefore if we talk to them more they will “get it”). Yet, we know there are clear developmental stages for a child, and clear points of neurologic maturation. We can see this from biologic studies of the brain, we can see this from the work of Rudolf Steiner, we can see this from the Gesell Institute and we can see this from Piaget.
So, the question becomes: how do we set boundaries in a calm way without treating our children like miniature adults?
Here are a few of my suggestions; take what resonates with you! Continue reading