Archives for June 2012

Do you set a good example for your spouse?

Source: adhdspecialists.com

Let me know if you can relate to this scenario:

After I’ve been home for 10-12 hours with my boys, my husband walks through the door after a long day at work (and a long commute), and I say “Tag, you’re it!” I figure that now that he’s home from work, he can take over with the kids and let me have a break. We are partners in this effort (yes, it’s often effort) of raising two small, rambunctious boys. So we often share kid duty.

But there are several problems with this. First of all, my husband needs just as much of a break as I do. His work day is different, and he can go to the bathroom by himself, but his day is no less stressful than mine.

The other problem with this is that I’m not setting a good parenting example for him. I am the one who has read the parenting books and know everything we should do to prepare our kids for this world. But at the end of a long day, I’m not the best mom I can be. It’s even worse when I don’t ask him to take over. If I just retreat into the computer or a book for a few minutes without telling him that I need a break, it looks like all I do is ignore my children. Not good!

My husband hasn’t read all of the books, and he depends on me to teach him good parenting methods. This is fine, and we both understand our roles in parenting. But when it’s the end of a very long day and I’m not the most patient mom, that’s all he sees. He doesn’t see the schedule I follow, the room time I require, the “yes, mommy” and eye contact I get before giving an instruction, and more.

I’ve seen with my own eyes what happens when my husband follows the bad example that I model. It’s not a conscious thing for either of us, but it happens nonetheless. So just as much as we need to model good character for our children, we need to do so for our spouses as well. Only then can we expect that our spouses will be the great parents that we hope they will be.

What do you think about extreme consequences?

I’m trying to come to terms with some of the logical consequences recommended by other parenting books. We took a Love & Logic class when my oldest was still a toddler and it just rubbed me the wrong way. I thought parts of it were good, but mostly, the logical consequences were too extreme. Couple that with a stance that the consequence, not the parent, does the teaching, and I left feeling confused.

I remember one of the suggestions in the class was in response to two quarreling siblings in the car. Their idea was to plan ahead of time to have a friend drive her car near where you are driving yours. Then you kick the child out of the car and let him walk home with the friend driving secretly behind. Crazy! I would never do that to my child. We have our struggles in the car, but this “consequence,” if you can call it that, would leave him emotionally scarred for life! He would hate and mistrust me for it and I would hate and mistrust myself for it.

Along the same lines, I have the book Creative Correction written by Lisa Welchel (of Facts of Life fame). The book is chock-full of logical consequences, so it’s always a good resource when we’re stuck in the timeout rut. But some of her suggestions are just crazy. Here’s an example:

“If you have a son who insists on getting physical to solve disputes, buy him a pair of boxing gloves. The next time things begin to ‘come to blows,’ pull out the gloves and put them on the boy. Don’t allow him to take them off for the rest of the day. This makes simple tasks like eating dinner, brushing one’s teeth, and putting on pajamas rather difficult. You can even cook popcorn for an after-dinner snack. (Be sure to pull out the video camera!)” (Creative Corrections, p. 212).

I like that she’s creative with her consequences, but this is too much. It’s not as bad as the Love and Logic one, but it’s not great. What happens when the child has to go to the bathroom? Does mom “give in” and take the gloves off or does she make him hold it all day? And what do you do about the blood sugar lows that come from a child who can’t eat his food very well? That would create behavior problems worse than the one you’re trying to correct.

To give the author credit, I’ll also offer a reasonable consequence, from the very same page:

“One rule around our house is that you can’t play with friends if you are treating them better than your own family. If one child has a friend over, she is not necessarily required to include her sibling in everything–but she must be kind. If common courtesy is not extended, her friend has to go home,” (Creative Correction, p. 212).

I like this consequence, not for the part about the friend going home, but for the part that there is a rule about how the children are to behave when friends come over.

This gets to the crux of my issue with extreme consequences, or any logical consequence for that matter. I think any parent who uses logical consequences has to see themselves as their child’s teacher. They cannot allow the consequence alone to do the teaching. This is the main reason why I don’t like Love & Logic. At every turn, the Ezzos teach us that we are our children’s teachers.

What’s more, extreme consequences–like leaving a child on the side of the road or having a child wear boxing gloves all day–teach the child that mom is just nuts! The child would remember the scenario, whatever emotional difficulties that came with it, and the impression that his mom was temporarily crazy. Would he remember the actual lesson that the parent was trying to teach? I doubt it. To go to such an extreme and risk emotionally damaging my children for a lesson that may not even happen anyway is just beyond me.

Oh, and Welchel’s solution to siblings fighting in the car? Buy them separate DVD players and let them watch movies in the car. It’s hard to imagine that a parenting “expert” is encouraging us to use TV as a behavior management tool. We limit our kids’ screen time and only use TV in the car for super-long road trips, so this just wouldn’t work for us.

What do you think about extreme consequences? Feel free to disagree with me! Are there any extreme consequences that you’ve used and that have worked? Did they teach the lesson you were going for? What’s the most extreme consequence you’ve heard of?

Surprise them with praise

Here's Lucas the first time he tried riding a bike (almost two years ago).

Here’s a great quote to remember:

“Surprise your kids with praise,” (On Becoming Childwise, p.204).

I have discussed the power of encouragement and how much it can affect our kids. There are certainly times when our kids expect our praise and they even seek it from us at times. My kids love to come to me with stories of their good behavior and hear the praise that I give them.

But I have found that the praise that I offer at unexpected times has an even greater effect than the praise they know is coming.

“We have found that the most effective praise is that which comes when the child is not expecting it,” (On Becoming Childwise, p.204).

I have a story that illustrates the power of surprising kids with praise. We have been trying to get Lucas to ride his bike for quite a while. William was riding without training wheels months before the age Lucas is now. Well, Lucas is a sporty kid, but he’d much rather play soccer or baseball than ride a bike. That’s all well and good, but he needs to learn how to ride a bike. We went for a walk this morning, and I wanted to walk fast to get some exercise. My husband and William rode their bikes. Lucas had to ride in the stroller. He wanted to ride his bike, but I said he needs to practice more. He can run faster than he can ride.

So this afternoon, we went out again (for a slow walk) and Lucas rode his bike. He had the motivation, but there were times when he was ready to give up. First, he couldn’t get the brakes right, so he walked the bike down a hill. Then he was ready to give up as we crossed some gravel. I quickly discovered that a little praise was all he needed! I praised and encouraged him the entire way, and he ended up mastering the brakes, riding up a pretty big hill, and standing on the pedals while riding! I am still so proud of him. He was so focused on riding the bike that at no point was he paying attention to me or expecting any bit of praise, so every word I said had great power.

The next time he starts to get a little discouraged by a difficult task (bike riding, homework, whatever), I’ll know that a little bit of unexpected praise will go a long way!

 

Know when to walk away

Source: sodahead.com

It’s so important for parents to take responsibility for the teaching and training we do for our children. When something goes awry, we need to look to ourselves first and realize that our children look to us to learn how to exist in this world. Whether we teach through direct instruction or lead by example, teaching our children is so important.

On the flip side of this is recognizing the importance of knowing when to walk away. At some point in our children’s lives–whether it’s when they start kindergarten or leave for college–they need to take ownership of their own actions. We know we have done our job when our children can walk away from us confidently, knowing how to behave (and believe) in certain situations.

Even when our children are little, we need to train ourselves to recognize when to teach and when to walk away. This idea comes to light in On Becoming Childwise when they discuss allowing our children to surrender with dignity. Essentially, we need to give our children an instruction and walk away with the confidence or expectation that they will follow through. Standing over the child while expecting him to disobey will not produce an obedient heart. If you expect them to disobey, they will. By the same token, if you expect them to obey, they will.

This plays out very clearly in daily life. When you train your child to stay in his room for roomtime, you take the time to explain what is expected of him–and why you expect those behaviors–and then you walk away. You walk away expecting that he will stay in his room. The same plays out when expecting a child to complete a chore. Walk away. But then also have a plan B for when the child doesn’t comply. The Ezzos tells us our children won’t be obedient 100% of the time, so we need to have a plan for how to deal with the child when they choose to disobey.

Just yesterday, I sent William, my 7-year-old, into the laundry room to put a load into the dryer. I told him exactly what I needed him to do, and I didn’t even follow him into the laundry room. I expected that he was old enough to understand my instructions and follow through with the care and determination that I would expect. Well, wouldn’t you know it, he ended up putting half of the load in the dryer, and then proceeded to throw the clothes around the room with his brother. They were playing some silly game with each other with the clothes. Plan A worked fine…until it didn’t. As soon as I heard the silliness, they were both sent to sit on their beds.

But at no point in the process did I stand over my child to ensure he completed the task. I allowed him to surrender with dignity, and then when he chose not to obey, I exerted my authority and sent him to his room. And even when sending both boys (now 4 and 7) to their rooms, at no point did I even have to follow them upstairs or make sure they sat on their beds. They have a healthy respect for my authority now that they will go up and sit very willingly (even though they hate it). From the very start of the whole episode, I gave a verbal instruction and never felt the need to watch over them. In fact, I think I stayed sitting in my chair the whole time.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is that we parents need to draw a line in the sand. There are times–especially when they’re toddler or preschool aged–when we need to stand over them and make sure they follow our instructions. And then there are times when we simply expect them to obey and have a plan for when they don’t. There’s nothing more suffocating to a child than a parent who stands over them with a critical eye. If the child is characterized by being 90% obedient, you should walk away 90% of the time. If he’s obedient 60% of the time, walk away 60% of the time.

And yes, our children will disobey. But we need to give them the freedom to disobey by their own free will so they will be able to learn from the experience. We all learn from our mistakes, don’t we? Let’s give our children the same courtesy.

 

100% Guarantee

Good news! My eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience, is now backed by a 100% guarantee! If you purchase and read the book and then decide that my methods don’t work for you, contact me for a refund.

Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo endorse my eBook, as do several other moms and mom bloggers. But I know how important it is to get some peace of mind when spending your hard-earned money. So if the book isn’t right for you, let me know.

By the same token, if you read the book and find success with it–as many of you have–I would love to hear from you. I know how important it is to hear from real moms when a method does or doesn’t work for their particular child. The “experts” (myself included, if you can call me one) can spout off all they want. But it’s not until other moms (and dads) endorse a book that we can really trust that it offers a solution to our parenting dilemmas.

So if you are committed to instilling first-time obedience in your child and bringing harmony to your home, download a sample (by clicking on the cover image at left) and then purchase my eBook. But do so knowing that you can always come back to me for a refund if it doesn’t work for you.

If you haven’t yet checked out my eBook, take a look. Founded upon the principles of On Becoming Childwise and Growing Kids God’s Way, the book contains 112 pages of detailed, step-by-step first-time obedience training instructions that have been tried, tested and proven by me, my friends and my readers. The book contains:

Introduction: My Story and Acknowledgments

Chapter 1: What Is First-Time Obedience?

Chapter 2: Ezzo Fundamentals: First Things First

Chapter 3: Preparing for First-Time Obedience Training

Chapter 4: Training Your Child in First-Time Obedience

Chapter 5: FTO Bootcamp

Chapter 6: Correction and Troubleshooting

Chapter 7: Special Circumstances

Conclusion: Obedience Is Just the Beginning

Appendices: Forms and Checklists

Note: Please read the complete book and implement its techniques for a full month before asking for a refund. Thanks!

Childishness vs. defiance

Source: childhealing.com

When your child misbehaves, does he do it out of willful defiance? Or is it that he just doesn’t know any better? The Ezzos make the distinction between childishness and defiance in the chapter titled “Five Laws of Correction” in On Becoming Childwise.

“If parenting were all about drawing lines, we would quickly run out of chalk. Fortunately, a thick black line has already been drawn for us in permanent ink. It marks the border between two totally separate realms of behavior. On one side is the land of Childish Mistakes. On the other is the land of Defiant Misdeeds…. The first speaks of rebellious acts, the second speaks of acts committed with malicious intent. Both require correction, but of different kinds,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 131).

Understanding the difference between the childishness and defiance makes perfect sense when you’re reading a book (or a blog). But when you’re in the throes of parenting a young child, it can be easy to forget that sometimes they just don’t know any better. We often think that they should already know better. But we need to ask ourselves whether we’ve really taken the time to teach the child in whatever behavior it is that we expect.

And we can’t expect that a lesson in one area will carry over to another. Kids are so black and white and don’t always make the connections that we adults do. Maybe you’ve told the child that he must stay in his chair while eating lunch, but will he know that the rule also applies to breakfast and dinner? Or maybe you’ve taught your older child never to walk on the carpet with his shoes on, and just assumed that your younger child learned through osmosis.

So much about parenting involves teaching our children. It applies just as much to behavior issues as it does to moral ones.

The next time you’re frustrated with your child and ready to correct him, stop yourself and make sure that it is an act of willful defiance and not just childishness. This should help you remember:

“Childishness is usually a head problem–a lack of knowledge. Defiance is usually a heart problem–the child does not what to do right,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 133).

If you tend toward leniency, the above quote will help you as well. If you’re faced with defiance and try to make excuses for the child, thinking he doesn’t know any better, think about the child’s motive behind his actions.

“When instructions have been given and received about something, there is little room for ‘innocent mistakes’ regarding that behavior. If the wrong thing is intentionally done, it’s disobedience–outright defiance–pure and simple,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 133).

This is where getting your “yes, mommy” and eye contact play a huge role. When the child is looking you in the eye and has acknowledged you with a verbal response, you have little doubt that he heard your instruction. If he fails to comply, he’s being defiant.

If you are new to my blog and the idea of “yes, mommy” and eye contact, read more at those links. You might also benefit from reading my eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience, which lays out how to use these tools to get your child to obey immediately and consistently.

Childhood Fears

Four days after heart surgery

By Hank Osborne from Daddy Life

“Fear! It is part of the overall human experience and not simply a childhood phenomenon. Some childhood fears might appear irrational, even silly, to parents because they do not arise from any real external danger, but they are very real to the child and should be respected as such,” Ezzo, Gary, and Robert Bucknam, M.D.. On Becoming Preschoolwise.

Riley is our oldest and has grown out of a couple of these apparent irrational fears. He is still working on some others. In a recent episode of the Home School Support Network podcast he shared two of his fears that are the same as a character in the book he was reviewing for the podcast. One of the fears is thunderstorms. More specifically, he does not like the loud noise of the thunder. This one is difficult to deal with so we try to be proactive and let him stay up until a storm passes or we go ahead and get him when we know a storm is brewing in the middle of the night.

Caden shares Riley’s fear of thunder. The thunderstorms are a cakewalk to deal with compared to some of Caden’s other fears. To help you better understand why these other fears can be difficult to deal with, it would probably be helpful for me to tell you a little about Caden. He is now 7 ½ years old. He was born with a genetic deletion called 22q11.2 (DiGeorge Syndrome). This came with a long list of complex medical challenges that we still battle. Caden has averaged about 30 nights per year in the hospital since birth due to having numerous major surgeries and illnesses. His surgeries to date include:

5 – Open heart surgeries for (IAA Type B, VSD, ASD, Ross Procedure, Pacemaker, oversized PDA, and aortic stenosis)
1 – Heart catheter (went into cardiac arrest during this one requiring CPR)
4 – Back surgeries to place and adjust VEPTR rods for scoliosis
1 – Stomach surgery for a Nissen Fundoplication and G-tube placement
1 – Neck surgery for a Cricopharyngeal Myotomy to try to help him swallow

As for illnesses, he was diagnosed with six distinct cases of pneumonia in 2011 and two cases in 2012. There is also a list of outpatient surgeries too long to list here.

I share these details to set the stage for a situation where we were forced to help Caden get past some of his irrational fears in rapid fashion. Caden’s fear manifested with him becoming hysterical at even the sight of a blood pressure cuff. And this all began one month before an open-heart surgery. You simply can’t go through open-heart surgery and just avoid the blood pressure cuffs during the recovery process. On top of that, every single clinic who sees Caden, no matter what their specialty, wants a blood pressure and pulse reading. We knew from our friends the Ezzos that “children often overcome their fears once they become acquainted with the object of fear.” We had to go into high gear to get Caden acquainted with the blood pressure cuff before the surgery.

The cardiologist gave us one of the velcro blood pressure cuffs exactly like the ones they would use on Caden during recovery in the ICU. Sherry began by leaving the cuff on the floor in the same room where Caden played for the first few days. She then had Caden sit in her lap (hands folded with some crying) with the cuff being a couple of feet away. She only did this a once or twice per day for just a few minutes each time. She would make sure it was closer to him for the next few days until she got to a point where Caden would allow for the cuff to touch his leg. (Not wrap around his leg!) We were well over a week into the process by the time we got to this point. As the days progressed, we worked to get him to allow it to touch his arm and eventually we got him to agree to put it on his favorite stuffed animal (a skunk). A couple of weeks in we finally got him to allow us to put it around his arm. Then we worked on blowing a little bit of air into the hoses to add a slight amount of pressure to his arm. By the time his surgery came around we had achieved our goal! Caden allowed the nurse to take his blood pressure during pre-op with no objections.

Caden did great during this surgery. He was discharged after only four nights in the hospital following a full open chest cavity surgery that required removal and replacement of both his pulmonary artery valve and his aortic valve. He is fast approaching his next valve replacement surgery. The photo above was taken at home just after lunch on a Friday four days after open-heart surgery…without a fear in the world.

 

Addicted to juice?

Source: golocalprov.com

Do your kids drink juice throughout the day? Is juice your child’s drink of choice? Do you limit his juice consumption or consider it a healthy option?

Did you know that juice is as bad for you as soda? Yep, you might as well serve your child a big glass of Coke. Now, we all know that no child should be drinking soda. (Right?) But the amount of sugar in juice and soda is about the same. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Coke: 10 teaspoons of sugar

  • Orange juice: 8 teaspoons of sugar

  • Apple juice: 10 teaspoons of sugar

  • Grape juice: 15 teaspoons of sugar!

Check out this complete list of beverages for their sugar content.

If it’s “100% juice,” all of the sugar comes from the fruit’s natural fructose. But it contains none of the fiber that comes with a plain piece of fruit. If a juice is “10% juice,” most of the sugar comes from high-fructose corn syrup, which we all know is bad for you. The sugar in soda is high-fructose corn syrup. Read this post to learn more about refined sugar in children.

Not that soda is good for any child, but the carbonation at least slows down the consumption. Juice goes right through you, so kids could drink it all day long without feeling full like they would with soda. Neither option is as good as water in hydrating our bodies. In fact, people often mistake thirst for hunger. So we often eat when a glass of water is all we need.

Think again if you think that chocolate milk would be a good substitute. Yes, it has calcium, but it also has 11 teaspoons of sugar. And those “low sugar” juice options aren’t any good either. If my children are going to have sugar, I’d rather they have sugar. I don’t want them consuming chemicals that are made to taste like sugar.

So what should your child be drinking? Water! Water is the healthiest, most natural option available, and it’s what works best to quench our thirst to keep us from getting dehydrated. I also think it’s important to train kids to drink water. I know a few adults who say they don’t like the taste of water. They drink soda, juice or flavored waters but won’t actually drink water at all.

My kids drink filtered tap water during lunch and dinner and throughout the day. Breakfast is the only time of day that I allow a small glass of juice, and that’s only because it’s one of only two sources of calcium. (They’re both allergic to dairy.) They drink organic, calcium-fortified orange juice at breakfast and take a calcium supplement before bed.

So what should you do if your child is addicted to juice? You could try cutting it out cold turkey. But if that is met with tears, water it down bit by bit. Start out with 80% juice, 20% water. Then 60% juice, 40% water. Work your way up day by day until water is all that’s left. Have cups of water available for the child to sip on all day long. My kids know that they are allowed to help themselves to water whenever they want. And they both have sippy cups of water by their beds.

Remember, we are our children’s best role models, so if you are one of those adults who “doesn’t like the taste of water,” try to change your habits and incorporate more water into your day. It’ll be good for your teeth, your waistline, and your skin!

Excuses excuses

Source: healthylifecarenews.com

How many times have you heard another parent make excuses for their children’s behavior? How often do YOU make excuses for your child’s behavior?

There are many factors (personality, age, birth order, etc.) that affect who our children are and who they will become. But for many parents, it’s often easy to blame those factors when their children are showing undesirable behavior or attitudes.

What’s important to realize is that those many factors may explain the attitude or behavior you’re seeing, but they don’t excuse it. Help your child overcome any limitations that limit his character.

Here are a few of those factors that are often used as excuses:

Personality

We all have inborn personality traits. Until I saw it in my own kids, who are so very different from each other, I didn’t fully comprehend how much of our personality is inborn versus how much is developed over time. Don’t use your child’s personality as an excuse for rudeness, disrespect, lack of self-control or any other undesirable trait.

Stop yourself when you hear phrases like, “Oh, he’s all boy,” or “She’s just quiet.” Accept these traits, but also work with your child to help them overcome them when the need arises.

“‘But she’s shy,’ blurted a mother apologetically. While shyness itself is not morally right or wrong, it does have moral facets. Shyness is not an acceptable excuse for disrespect. It cannot be used as a legitimate excuse for disrespect, because temperamental strengths and weaknesses do not exempt a child from right moral responses. If someone says hi to your child, the correct response should be, at least, hi,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 101).

If you find yourself confronted with a situation that your child handles poorly because of a personality trait, simply smile at the person involved and say, “I’m sorry; we are working on this.” And then when you get home, teach your child how to speak politely, gain self control, or whatever trait it is that you’re working on.

Ages and stages

There’s no doubt that our children’s ages affect who they are. And they go through developmental phases that define their personality for a time. Just as you would with personality traits, don’t use the child’s age as an excuse for poor attitude or behavior.

It’s pretty obvious that you would work with a two-year-old to limit tantrums, especially in public and in response to a friend. But it may not be as obvious to work with older children. Understand that other phases are just as important. What would you do if:

  • Your 5-year-old suddenly starts fighting with his siblings?
  • Your 7-year-old starts whispering and telling secrets with friends, as he gains independence from mom and dad?
  • Your 10-year-old walks around with a haughty attitude and inflated ego as peers lavish attention?
  • Your 13-year-old challenges your authority, arguing that her friends’ parents aren’t so strict?

No matter what the developmental phase, our children will change over time and will quite likely pick up some undesirable habits. Don’t blame the age and expect that it will go away. Quite possibly, ignoring the issue will make it worse!

“Sibling conflict is not simply a phase that children go through. It is a moral problem that desperately needs correcting. Although sibling conflict is frustrating for any parent to observe, it is possible to carry out the first principle between siblings, but it will take consistent hard work,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 105).

Birth order

In The Birth Order Book, Kevin Leman lays out the personality traits that we all gain based on our position in the family. First-borns are often perfectionists and take on leadership roles with siblings. They often insist on order and routine. Middle children often take on a peacekeeper status. The babies of the family often become the family comedian.

Again, while it’s important to understand how birth order affects our personalities, we cannot use it to excuse attitude and behavior. You might see birth order differences come out in the way the children speak to each other:

First born: “You can’t do it that way. It has to be this way. You’re doing it all wrong!”

Middle child: “Why can’t you guys just get along?”

Youngest: “I want to do it my way. You’re being mean to me. I’m going to go tell mom.”

In response to such remarks, the Ezzos say:

“Your children should never speak rudely to each other. Evil intended remarks such as, ‘I don’t love you,’ ‘You’re ugly,’ or threats like ‘I’m going to tell,’ are unacceptable. Keep watch! Training children to restrain their unkind speech is one of the most overlooked areas in parenting,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 107).

It’s not just luck

Understand that children don’t behave well and act morally through dumb luck. It takes parental training and resolve.

“Morally trained children know how to respect property, age, and peers. Such children are a joy to be around, because they are complete, equipped with moral reason. They are not the product of chance or genetics. People will mistakenly say to these parents, ‘You’re so lucky to have children like that.’ But it’s not luck, it’s the result of consistent, persistent, parental training. These children’s actions demonstrate humility of heart, which is what real character training is all about,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 109).


Kids crave boundaries

Source: faucettphotography.blogspot.com

Are you ever reluctant to enforce boundaries with your child? Do you feel like a daily schedule is too rigid and restrictive? Do you want to be the “fun” parent and strip all forms of boundaries from your child’s day?

Let me tell you that your kids WANT you to give them boundaries. Our kids crave the security that boundaries give them. And they need security among all else. When a child lacks security, some of the most fundamental things in their lives are affected. Without boundaries and security, the child:

  • Lacks confidence in himself
  • Loses sleep
  • Has difficulty making friends
  • Does poorly in school

Some people think that children cannot be free to express themselves when they are forced to live within defined boundaries. I agree that children need to have the freedom to express themselves and be creative and imaginative. But it’s because of boundaries that children have this freedom, not despite them. Without boundaries, freedom of expression doesn’t happen. Without boundaries, children are too preoccupied with watching out for their basic health and safety. Boundaries serve as the baseline for child development. Set those boundaries and the child will be free to grow, and accomplish things you might never have expected of them.

Consider the following passage from On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise:

“Several middle school students huddled around the inside perimeter of a schoolyard fence. A psychologist from a local university who was passing by subsequently suggested that the fences be taken down. His theory was that the children resented being ‘fenced in.’ The fences, he concluded, restricted their freedom to roam the playground at will. The fences were taken down. The result? The children began to huddle in the middle of the yard. Why? The children didn’t know where the boundaries were. Boundaries give children a sense of security. When the fences came down, their security was stripped away,” (p. 93).

Help your children feel safe and secure in their world by establishing boundaries.