I have a 4-year-old. My 4-year-old sometimes has trouble communicating. Sometimes he has tantrums, sometimes he bursts into tears for seemingly no reason… and very often he doesn’t listen to what I want. It is a constant power struggle… and I think it’s awesome!
The other day was my birthday and a friend of mine took us out for dinner. While we were out my son decided that he was old enough to squeeze the ketchup on his own. After a small discussion I agreed to let him try. My friend took it on himself to try to stop my son and to reprimand him for disobeying me.
I understood part of his point. My son did fight back. My son did resist my wishes, but he did it to advocate himself. He didn’t have a fit. He didn’t throw the ketchup or cry or cause a scene he simply stated his case and told me that he felt that he was ready for more. That, in my opinion, is not disobedience. That is leadership skills. I told my friend that I had it handled and I was hoping that would be the end of it.
Later, when we were home for cake, my son finished his water and threw his water bottle on the floor. My friend told him to pick it up, and my son refused. This was disobedient, and my friend again, took it upon himself to try to correct his behavior. He was calling him a baby for misbehaving and threatening my son that he wouldn’t be allowed to hang out with him anymore and watch his favourite TV show. This was an empty threat. Everyone knew this and it accomplished nothing.
I, again, told my friend that he wasn’t helping and my friend left the room frustrated. I turned to my “disobedient” son and asked him to pick up the water bottle. He refused. I then told him that he was going to have to clean up my pile of papers on the table. He told me that wasn’t fair because it wasn’t his mess… I pointed out the hypocrisy and then explained that if he wasn’t going to clean up his own mess then I would have to clean it up.. and the more time that I spent cleaning up the mess the less time that I would have to play with him. Then I stopped talking and finished my cake.
My son sat for a minute, then proceeded to walk over, pick up the water bottle, and threw it in the trash. This was about the time my friend came back into the room. I told him that I handled it. He seems to think that kids should just do as they’re told because they are told. I do not like that idea. I like the idea of teaching children WHY they should do things. I like teaching children about repercussions. I like when my child speaks up for himself.
There are many people who feel that parents are too lenient today. “That’s why kids are so lazy and disrespectful”. Yet, it has been proven that the stricter the parent is without justification the more apt the child is to rebel. There is a difference between letting a child do what ever they want.. and letting a child make decisions so they learn the consequences.
I don’t want my son to grow up to be a cog. I don’t want my son to grow up and just do as he’s told. I want my son to grow up and create the life he wants and fight for the life that he deserves. Breaking his spirit won’t accomplish that, and arbitrary rules should be questioned.