Children testing limits, or in my house we call it 'pushing' limits. You know, when your child asks for one more piece of candy. Or better yet, you are at a restaurant eating and tell your child 'no' and they scream and cry for whatever they can't have. Sound familiar?
Why is it that kids LOVE to test limits on their parents more than anyone?
It's because kids act out more around those that they trust. They trust enough to push limits with their parents (or any close family member), and see how far they can go. Makes you feel really special huh? It's why they are usually perfect for the babysitter or a family member that they don't see as often. "Oh he is just so well behaved, a perfect little angel!" Little do they know he had a full on tantrum earlier in the day when he refused to eat his lunch.
But it is a funny phenomenon that kids push their limits around their parents more because they feel secure enough to fully be themselves. So that means if a child is super tired, they feel safe enough to be their cranky self in front of mommy or daddy. Believe me, happens in my home All. The. Time.
Adults are the same way for the most part. It's like when I hear moms complain about the ever hard mother-in-law relationship. Most of the moms of children I know have to smile and put on their best face around the MIL. They don't feel safe being their real self in front of them. But with their spouses? Ha, they feel safe enough to be whoever you want.
I do feel very special that my child feels free to fully be themselves, but at the same time it is hard to constantly redirect them by setting limits. I feel like a broken record half the time.
As annoying as it is, it is still super important to keep those limits in check.
Limits make children feel safe. They need boundaries. They need to know what they can and can't do. Even if you are more of the permissive parent, or the authoritarian strict parent approach, they need consistent, firm limits. It will cause less tantrums, less tears and more confident and secure children in the long run.
The child you see running all around the store like they are hyped up on candy, who doesn't listen to his parent and runs off, or better yet, talks back to the parent. Yes, it will happen to all of you one day here or there. But kids that do this all day long are not having consistent limits in place, or consistent care-giving. Being told one thing one time and something else another- they are learning to not trust their care givers or the environment and that equals chaos. Limits help develop self-control.
So as much fun as it is hearing tantrums all day, keep reminding yourself it is temporary and they are TESTING you. They feel safe enough to act out around you. They are learning to trust their environment, so keep enforcing those limits, and reflect all those crazy feelings they are showing you.
For tips, click here on limit setting and here for reflecting feelings.