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You are NOT the Boss of Me!

Submitted by on August 29, 2013 – 4:11 pmNo Comment

You're not the Boss of Me

Being Firm but Not Controlling with Your Kids

Guest Post by Dena Soliman, co-owner of Kids ‘R’ Kids of West Allen

Recently I heard the neighbor’s young child turn and say defiantly to her mother: “You’re not the boss of me!” I hid a smile as I thought back to the many occasions I have heard that same phrase from countless preschoolers, often four-year-olds, who chafe under the restrictions of adults.

Be Authoritative, but not an Authoritarian

How to respond to such words? Certainly not with an equal measure of adult boldness, since that could bring about nothing but a full-scale escalation of resistance. After all, the very words are triggered by the child’s sense of being powerless against the adult, and call for an authoritative, not authoritarian, response. Actually, what is called for is adult recognition of the fact that we really cannot be the bosses of them, if we have the long-term goal of our children becoming truly able to control their own lives.

The longer we retain the authoritarian role of sole boss, demanding unquestioning and unswerving compliance and obedience, the less likely that they will develop the knowledge and skills to self-regulate their own actions. Controlling bosses never share power. They leave their underlings to comply with resentment at being powerless. Meanwhile, the bosses take no responsibility for their actions. This is a disastrous formula for future success in children’s lives.

Setting Limits and Consquences

The long, gradual process of developing self-control begins in the early years. Authoritative parents set a few firm limits, carefully explaining the reasons that lay behind the limits, in terms a young child can understand. They help children experience the consequences of not keeping within these boundaries, either as naturally occurring results or as logically related actions that follow their mistaken behavior. This is how children discover better ways to be their own boss.

Allow Children to Make Some Decisions

Parents also allow children to make some of their own choices, within the clear parameters of acceptable behavior. For example, the adult has the right to make the decision that children heading for preschool must be wearing clothes and suitable shoes, but the child may have the freedom to select those items on any given day. Then parents follow up by allowing kids to experience the results of their decisions, even if they find the clothes uncomfortable for active play. (This is the time not to take on the told-you-so role, but rather to voice a calm and neutral observation: “I guess the party shoes don’t work so well on the slide.”) With the combination of clearly understood reasons for limits and experiencing consequences, as well as having increasing amounts of freedom to choose courses of action, children become more and more able to become their own bosses. They become more confident in that role, and parents do as well.

Incidentally, all of this requires parental awareness of what their role actually is. Parenting is not about being in control of everything in your children’s lives. A good parent understands that there are about eighteen years in which to equip children with the knowledge and skills that will carry them through the rest of their lives. Spending too much of this time as boss will mean that your job will never be done—an unhappy outcome for all.

As children try to find their place in the world, they look to their parents for guidance and support. Make sure you give your child the room they need to learn and make mistakes, but also make sure they knows you are on their side, win or lose.

Kids ‘R’ Kids believes that happy, loved, connected children are destined for success in every facet of their lives. Our most cherished principle, “Hug First, Then Teach,” defines every aspect of who we are at Kids ‘R’ Kids. When it comes to teaching, Kids ‘R’ Kids understands the importance of involving families with their child’s developmental milestones and accomplishments. We hope you will drop by for a tour at one of our 12 locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. You will find a list of our locations on www.dfwkidsrkids.com.

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