by: Linda Bartosik
You say yes, your child says no. You say no, your child says yes. There's a lot of foot stamping and arm folding. Maybe a stomp down the hallway and a door slam.
Your child is quietly eating a sandwich at the counter. A sibling enters the room. Your child flings something (verbal or otherwise) in hopes of getting a reaction. You're wondering why this child is always like this. Pushing boundaries. Seeking attention (mostly the negative kind).
Hey mom, all this is perfectly normal. Your child is trying to gain control of his or her world by provoking you and other family members so they can practice negotiating the situations. They are learning to make decisions. They are learning how their choices play out and affect others, and in turn affect them. They need a safe arena to practice these skills. That safe arena would be the home and school environment.
Your children need a safe place in which to try things and fail or succeed. In over 35 years in the classroom I have found this the case is some way, shape, or form with every child. Some were more active and vocal than others, but in essence it was all toward the same goal - to practice taking on and balancing the challenges life presents.
For my last 23 years, I taught kindergarten. I reassured parents I would always be there for their child, but I would not jump in and do everything for them each time they struggled. At lunch I would require every child to try opening their own milk. I'd let them struggle a bit and usually they'd get it without my help. There's nothing like that "I did it!" smile when they saw me watching them. If they struggled too long, I'd walk over and pull the cardboard a bit and encourage them to try again, knowing they'd be successful. That bit of
control that I didn't steal by doing it for them was another brick put in place on their confidence wall.
Once a child feels that control over little things in their world, the testing of our patience usually subsides for a bit, but don't relax - in a few weeks they'll be back at it again. They experience a growth spurt and want more independence and control. Do you ever wonder "what got into my child lately"? Your child is growing and they need to make more choices and do more things for themselves so they get a feeling that they are heard, valued, and can control their world - kid power.
The next time you say no and they say yes, don't argue or keep repeating yourself. Stand your ground. Let them stomp around. They'll figure out on their own it isn't going to work. Then, when they are quiet, let them know your willing to listen to their "side", even though you're not changing your mind. By doing more listening and less arguing, you are not only setting the example for dealing with conflict, but you will learn surprising things about the way your child views the world.
One of my favorite things about teaching was talking to parents about their children. If you would like to talk about your child with a teacher, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from
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