She’s got heaps and heaps of spirit, and only a small dose of self-control.
Let’s just say, we’re working on it.
It both excites me and drives me nuts that she is so full of spirit and energy for the things that drive her. I know she’ll be an awesome kid and an even more awesome adolescent – she has the capacity for such brilliance in her creativity and her passion for collaboration and communication. But where do I draw the line for her in the ways that are appropriate for communication and self-expression?
This has been something my husband and I have been working through for the past few months with our blossoming preschooler. Mostly, we have been focused on these three points: Choosing kindness, mutual respect, and finding good examples.
Dealing Gently with Inappropriate Behaviors
Recently, Abbey’s most inappropriate behavior has been imitating a preschool classmate in pretending to pee and poop on things, reminiscent of the Calvin and Hobbes bumper and window stickers that picture Calvin peeing on a certain object of interest to show the owner’s distaste in that brand, way of thought, etc.
Obviously, we found this totally inappropriate. I figured out by some active listening that Abbey was choosing to emulate a certain classmate that demonstrates this behavior, and after I talked to the teachers about it (who were unaware of the behavior) I decided to talk to Abbey about choosing good examples to copy instead of copying people who are making not-so-great decisions about appropriate behavior. Potty language is a normal preschool phase. Like baby talk or nanny-nanny boo-boo. But acting out the act of peeing on something. . . that was a different story.
“But I like Craig.” Abbey said sadly. “It’s fun playing with him. He’s nice!”
I explained to her that playing with her little friend was perfectly fine – great even. But that I needed her to understand that copying him wasn’t the best choice.
“What Craig 1 does when he pretends to pee or poop on things. . . ” Abbey giggled uncontrollably.
“It’s not funny, Abbey. It’s really inappropriate. Peeing and pooping on things or people is not funny and pretending to do so is very unkind.”
Drawing the line
I asked her if she could try not to copy Craig when he does something that is unkind or nasty. I suggested that maybe she try copying another friend’s favorite phrase or dance or story and see how much fun that could be. I tried to keep the conversation positive and make sure not to direct Abbey to avoid Craig in any way, just to choose kindness and find good examples to copy in her classroom.
After we talked about it, we played together and she chose to have one of her magnetic dolls copy the other magnetic doll. They played ring-around-the-rosy together.
“Ring around the rosy is really fun!” I said. “And, it’s a good, kind game to play with your friends.”
“Not like peeing!” Abbey announced, and she showed me how the pretend peeing is done, grabbing an invisible penis (obviously she doesn’t have one of those) and going “pssssssssssss!” . . .
and then of course, little Joseph copied her. . . pretending to pee on something . . . *sigh*
Like I said: Abbey’s a firecracker. We’re working on it.
How do you address limits and appropriate behaviors with your child?
Where do YOU draw the line?
Do you have any tips or tricks to share?
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 29 with all the carnival links.)
- No Tattoos! (yet) – Jana Falls at Jananas is okay with tattoos. You just have to wait until you’re 18.
- The Chains of Conformity -Destany at They are All of Me writes about teaching her children to be true to their own authenticity and… screw conformity, it’s for sheep.
- Supporting Self-Expression in Children – At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy encourages her children to be themselves and express themselves accordingly.
- Encouraging Good Examples -Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work encourages her spirited preschooler to choose good examples to copy in order to discourage inappropriate learned behaviors.
- Supporting Your Child’s Self Expression – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she support’s her daughter’s desire to be herself despite objections from Rasta Daddy.
- Can a “good” child be noncompliant? – Lauren at Hobo Mama has a sweet-natured child who is anything but obedient. She likes him just fine, but his grandmother’s not sure what to make of him.
- In Crowd or Outcast, March to Your Own Beat – Jorje of Momma Jorje compares some of the odd fashions of her own youth to some of the crazy stuff kids, and her teen in particular, are doing these days.
- Their bodies are their own – At Authentic Parenting, Laura questions society’s claims on children.
- name has been changed ↩