The build­ing blocks of bound­aries

And why you’ll need a Q-TIP

Bayview Post - - Kids -

When we think of say­ing no to kids, our minds most of­ten turn to the ter­ri­ble twos and how we, as par­ents, strug­gled to nav­i­gate those rock-strewn wa­ters. I re­mem­ber my then two-year-old, 29 years ago, ig­nor­ing me when I said it was time to leave the toys­trewn wait­ing room at our GP’s of­fice.

Th­ese are the mem­o­ries that sur­face. Not the teen ones. There’s a rea­son for that. As tough as it was to par­ent tod­dlers, it was rel­a­tively sim­ple. We’re still sleep-de­prived, they’ve just dis­cov­ered the word NO, and our job is to fig­ure out how to get them to do stuff they don’t want to do. With­out hav­ing a tantrum. Us or them.

It sounds hard. And it was. But the ter­ri­ble twos are easy street com­pared to the storms of ado­les­cence — for one sim­ple rea­son: Power. It all turns on power. Tod­dlers need us for lit­er­ally ev­ery­thing in their lives. And they pretty much know it. Thus nat­u­ral con­se­quences work re­ally well to mo­ti­vate them to do what we want. and in­spired by Dreikurs, writ­ten by Don C. Dinkmeyer). It be­came easy to deal with re­fusals like get­ting mov­ing from the fun doc­tor’s of­fice (and other cool places): “Oh, you don’t want to come? That’s OK, but I’m go­ing. Bye.” And of course they come run­ning along promptly, be­cause the tod­dler knows they can’t get home (or in­deed any­where else) with­out us. Not so for the teenager. Which is the first rea­son why set­ting bound­aries with teens is so chal­leng­ing. They don’t need us for much. Nice that we pay the mort­gage and pro­vide meals and drive them around, but they don’t see life that way.

Teens are hard-wired to dif­fer­en­ti­ate from their par­ents and to be­lieve in their in­de­pen­dence, how­ever il­lu­sory. They like to think they don’t need us, and that we have no power Par­ent­ing colum­nist Joanne Kates is an expert ed­u­ca­tor in the ar­eas of con­flict me­di­a­tion, self-es­teem and anti-bul­ly­ing, and she is the di­rec­tor of Camp Arowhon in Al­go­nquin Park.

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