Boundary Busting

August 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm 2 comments

Now that my daughter is officially three years old it is clear she believes she must test every boundary, push every button, and press on my every nerve. I survived the Terrible Twos only to get trampled by the Boundary Blasting B-Threes.

A New Kid In Town

I don’t know how or why it happened so suddenly. Yesterday she seemed perfectly content to help clean up her toys or feed the cats. Now her default answer to every request is “No”. Her default response to our commands to stop her annoying activity is to stare defiantly at us and keep doing it. Every question is a demand. Denial of a third popsicle is worthy of tears. She wants this, she needs that, this toy is hers, that juice is definitely NOT yours.

Who is this new force in my house?

Sidewalk Shenanigans

The other day we were walking along a busy sidewalk downtown headed toward a farmers market. Going to this event has become a delightful new family tradition for us on Sundays. As we came up to a busy intersection my wife and I stopped to wait for the light to turn for us. My daughter, however, decided she wanted to walk right up to the edge of the sidewalk, right up to the busy cars zooming by. My natural impulse was to suddenly jump forward, take a hold of her arm and gently move her back to us, letting her know it wasn’t safe to be that close to traffic.

As soon as I let go of her arm she began walking up to the edge of the sidewalk again. I grabbed her arm, repeated the same warning with just a little edge to my voice and guided her back. The moment I let her go she moved away again, only this time in a different direction, putting Mommy between her and I, and bringing herself dangerously close to speeding traffic. Then it was Hop Mom’s turn to step in. She reinforced what I had already said and demanded that our precocious pest stand right between us. That command was completely ignored.

The crosswalk light changed for us just as my wife was done with the behavior. She scooped up our daughter and carried her along the crosswalk. Our daughter exploded with anger. We became that couple on the busy downtown street carrying a screaming child.

Boundaries and Balance

Now that my daughter is three she has a more developed set of emotions. I can no longer simply take something away from her to stop bad behavior. Honest explanations must be made, and clear examples shown. Consistency is key. It’s a lot more work than I need right now, honestly. It should be blatantly obvious that tying a string around her little brother’s neck was a bad idea five minutes ago and it still is now. But I don’t think a lack of understanding is really the issue. She simply wants to find the boundary and that’s ok by me. I just want her to do it without turning our son’s face blue.

I relish watching my daughter grow and develop autonomy. But I see there is a fine line to walk between allowing your child to take command of her world and allowing her to take command of your world. You have to let them win some battles. By doing that you’re showing your child you respect her. However, that respect doesn’t always come back to you and you have to stand firm in the face of a tantrum.

Stay strong, Hop Dads. Even though she thinks you are a monster for making her take a bath, in truth she wants and needs you to keep her clean and healthy.

Entry filed under: Being Dad. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Motherhood Marzen Jewely the Dragon

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. moodleyscraftbeer  |  August 26, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Being the father of a small and wonderful being, I empathise with your experiences.

  • 2. muddledmom  |  August 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

    They still need it at age 9 too. Whew. But, you know, with less carrying.


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