Last week, Nic was bored. It was one of those rare afternoons that he was home early and he felt a bit lost. He kept asking to do things… play on the computer… go to the nets at school… go ride his bike… go to the shop to buy stuff. Unfortunately for various valid reasons I said no to each of those requests. By the time he got to “go to the shop on my bike” he was really quite fed up with me saying no, and kept saying “But WHY?”
His frustration was obvious, so I tried to placate him with other things, but he really was quite fed up. He was particularly annoyed that he couldn’t go to the shop on his own. Now that he has a cell phone, his rationale was that he would be safe because he could phone me if anything happened, and he could bbm me to tell me he was safely at the shop, when he was leaving and voila! No problem. Needless to say I tried to explain the ‘dangers’ around that and the holes in his plan, but he wasn’t buying it and thought I was just saying no because I can.
At about 4pm, we got a frantic knock on the door from a father who lives on our property with his 17yr old daughter. She was 2 blocks away from us, walking home with her friend, and was robbed. Of her cell phone.
Nic was with me when the dad was explaining and he came with me when we shot out to pick her up and call the police. Throughout the whole ordeal, he sat wide eyed and in shock. He listened to poor Moureen tell her tale of woe (though thankfully she was not hurt at all) and saw how upset she was. He was also quite disturbed but didn’t say a thing.
That night, when he was getting ready for bed, he said “Mommy, I can’t believe that the bad guys were right up the road from us.” So I said, “I know my love… so when you got mad at me for not allowing you to go to the shop….?” And all he did was nod and hug me.
Sometimes you need to be the Big Bad Parent. That is your job. It sucks to feel like you are always saying no. It sucks to not be able to explain some of your reasons sometimes. And it is definitely easier to give in than to stand firm. But stand firm you must.
Many of us have trouble setting limits. Some of us set limits that end up punishing ourselves. Some of us set limits and then don’t follow through! And some of us don’t know how to set a CLEAR limit.
When you set a clear limit and follow through, you teach your child a very essential life skill. You model for them how to draw boundaries in their own lives. Even though your children may “fight you tooth and nail”, limits tell your child you love them enough to move through their anger. Ironically, and contrary to what some people think, a child that does not have limits often feels unloved.
Clear limits avoid confusion for both you and your child. If your child doesn’t know how he/she is expected to act and what will happen if he/she doesn’t act that way, he/she will often test you and provoke you to set limits.