My children don’t test me. They don’t push my limits, and that is because I don’t have any. They push their own limits, physically, mentally and spiritually. There’s nothing to rebel against but gravity and all the other laws of nature. 😛
I see many parents chasing after toddlers (and older children) dashing out this way and that dangerously among traffic and sharp pavement. I feel the stress and I’m sad for them. Maybe I’m sad for you… I have noticed that children that run carelessly often are only children who have been heavily controlled and helicoptered. I know it is with the best intentions and maybe I’m just lucky that neglect come natural to me (kidding), but I feel for them. They work so hard at parenting only to have it be more work and not fun. Outings and special events turn into nightmares of children frantically searching for their independence and autonomy. It doesn’t have to be this way. But how do we change things when we’ve trained children to run away from us?
Baby steps. Ask yourself what you can let go of that doesn’t harm their physical well being?
Can you let go of the need to dress them a certain way when they would like to look another? So they won’t wear a coat in cold weather? Just silently bring one along, my kids always end up grateful I did!
Can you let go of monitoring what, when and how much they eat? It could be hard, you may need to look the other way or leave the room. They won’t starve themselves, for long… And they will begin to heal their stress-induced aversions to eating. I’m sorry you are going through this. There’s another way…
I’m not saying your kids need to look like mine (outside in a pack, all muddy on bikes with enormous smiles and hair in the wind).
What does your happy child look like?
Now here’s some hard ones but they are not dangerous, hopefully:
Can you let go of the need to tell them what to say and how to act? (Pleases and sorries). I mean it. Let their intrinsic kind nature show through. It takes longer and it’s sometimes harder to see but it’s worth it. True words from a child are so so so special. More than a million forced pleases and thank yous.
What else can we let go of that will add to our happiness? Can we let go of the stronger urge and desire to do laundry? I like to pick through and just do a load or two of what we need. This works!
Can we let go of needing to constantly clean up after kids? They make less messes if we are involved. Sometimes that means just sitting with them, observing.
The less we regulate our children, the more they will be willing to cooperate. Eventually children just begin to tune out the constant direction. Think about what wants to come out of them. They do want to be safe. They do want to be healthy and happy and human. This is their journey and they will make mistakes and get hurt and we will be there to comfort and never say “See! You should be more careful!”. They know. They’re learning. Enjoy it before it is gone. You can’t get your child back once they are gone and even more importantly: You can’t give back their childhood once it is over. Let them live it. 🙂
That is my two youngest boys, making and eating their own sticky, messy jam. They’re so proud and happy about it and its about 10:00 at night. I was happy too.