Your toddler runs in the opposite direction from you whenever you say it’s time to leave.
Your 5 year old negotiates for more screen time whenever you say that time is ending.
Your 8 year old begs to be able to stay up later than their bedtime. Every. Single. Night.
Your 12 year old talks back and refuses to do household chores whenever you ask them to do something.
Irritating. Infuriating. Unacceptable. Rude. Spoiled. Aggravating.
But what if it weren’t?
What if that familiar flash of frustration, irritation, conflict (call it whatever you want) is your reminder to:
Take a breath.
Take a step back from the situation.
Take a different perspective.
What if that moment is an opportunity, rather than a hurdle.
What if – in that moment that our child “refuses”, we got curious and grateful?
Developmentally — for the sake of their ability to become a Thinking Adult Human, kids – at all developmental levels – must venture out on their own and hit up against the boundaries that you create for them. It’s actually their jobs. Their brains require it.
And so, with that developmental mindset, you can choose to:
Feel amazed, happy and grateful every time your toddler finds a boundary and you get to enforce it.
Be impressed that your 5 year old is figuring out that it’s no fun to unplug from The Box and feel happy that you get to help them learn how to do it.
Feel glad that your 8 year old is testing for themselves how important sleep is and that you get to shape their brains for their future good by teaching them good sleep habits.
Get curious about why your 12 year old isn’t choosing to do their chores and have an open non judgemental conversation about it with them about it.
Testing limits is what kids are designed to do. And enforcing boundaries is some of the most important work of parenting.
We can make that work a Big F-ing Drag, or we can make it Fascinating; Illuminating; and a Way Into relationship with our child.
If you’re unsure whether the limits that your child is testing are developmentally on track, or if you’re in prolonged battles with your child for long periods of the day, check out our free Raising Orchid Kids Facebook Group for some solidarity. The group is designed for parents who are raising challenging, neurodiverse kiddos, and who want a Tribe of parents who “get it”. We share wins and struggles in a safe place while also cheering each other on in the process.