You see that face? That is the face of trouble. Right now, as we speak, that gorgeous puss is plotting something. What exactly? I’m not sure. But I do know this… he is a smart one. Yessiree, he is one smart cookie. If the original Lex Luther head hair, this handsome dude would be his doppelgänger, for sure.
Here, let me explain.
All children test their limits. It’s ingrained in their personalities from day one, and from time to time, they take it out for test drive. They like to see how far and how fast they can get before they get a reaction. From us. It doesn’t matter what country you live in, what language you speak, what kind of community you grow up in, or your family values. Children. Will. Test. The. LIMITS! Even I’ve seen Michelle Duggar scold her children once or twice on camera, so we know that nobody’s perfect. But what is it about children and pushing the envelope that makes us want to run for the hills screaming ?
In my opinion, each child is unique and original in their limit pushing. My son, for example, is the kind of limit pusher who will put it all out on the table for you, instead of hiding it. He looks at you with those BIG brown eyes, and will have a stare-down with you, until one of you blinks or cracks first, and I can assure you that he’s not going to be the one to loose.
A few days ago, our home therapist was working with our son, when she presented him with something that he wasn’t too fond of. So he upped the ante (like he always does). But this time was different. He walked over to the television in his playroom, and started poking it. He might’ve even pushed it a little. His goal? To get a reaction from somebody; anybody in his vicinity. My husband immediately intervened, because in his eyes (and I completely understand where he was coming from) you don’t mess with a man’s TV! Ever!
Well, Jason’s reaction (which was a normal parent reaction) sent our therapist reeling. She kindly explained to him why we don’t intervene when it comes to behavioral intervention. And Jason explain to her why he felt the need to intervene. It’s a double-edge sword people, but in the world of behavioral management you ignore the unsavory, and praise the good!
But why does it feel so wrong to ignore bad behavior? Because, for an extremely brief moment, we are letting our children hold all of the cards. We feel like we are giving them power. The power to push the envelope. We always hope and pray that if a child feels that if they’re being ignored, then miss behaving won’t be as fun to them, and they’ll choose to seek out more positive attention, rather than negative attention. Does that make sense? Children LOVE the reaction that’s written all over our faces when they receive negative attention from us, and it doesn’t matter whether their learning disabled or nero-typical.
Sometimes it just feels easier to throw your hands up in the air and walk away from a giant “mess,” but in retrospect, use those moments as teaching moments for your kids. If they draw on the walls, or knock a TV over, or purposely do something just to get a rise out of you, they need to be held responsible for their actions AFTER you’ve done your duty of ignoring the unsavory and praising the good.
Remember, YOU are the parent. YOU are the one holding all of the cards. And YOU possess the power to teach your children right from wrong. And one day, just maybe, they’ll be in a similar situation, and you can remind them of what they were like when they were that age. I know my parents did, and sometimes they still do. It’s because they care.