Sometimes we realize that one of the hardest things to do both for children and for adults who supervise them is linked to the establishment of “limits”, to the respect of the “no”.
There are times in which those whims have the appearance of a challenge. And this can create frustration and bewilderment in adults, as well as anger and confusion in children.
However, I think it’s important that, after evaluating the best responses to present to children in these moments, we can…
UNDERSTAND AND RESPECT CHILDREN’S “NO!”
Children are changing, are growing
The developmental phase that goes from 18 months to around 3 years, is the time when we can notice this change in the personality of a child. This is the phase that is commonly known as the “terrible twos”, a name that clearly indicates the intensity of this phase, which is characterized by tantrums, screams, whims, and many “no!”.
However, behind this incomprehensible behavior, there is a delicate moment of psychological growth. This is the time, in fact, when the child blooms into a person. And the expression of opposition, those ”no!”, serve the purpose to perceive themselves as being distinct from the adults that are in front of them, in order to create their own identity.
That is why those “no” must be first listened to and respected. Only then, we can learn to distinguish which ones of these must be managed and contained, and which ones must be accepted.
The different kinds of “No!”
There are “no!” that arise from the child’s objective inability to assess the situation in front of them or to evaluate danger, or even from the inability to manage their own emotions. For example, these are the “no!” of when it comes to going to kindergarten, or to going back home, or even simply of when it comes to putting on a coat. These are the “no!” that require “limits”, that do not need negotiations, and that the child has to learn to accept.
There are other “no!”, however, that result from a personal need, or even from a personal taste. For example, these are the “no!” expressed when a child does not want to take part in a game or an activity, when he does not want to talk, or, on the contrary, does not want to be alone. These are the “no!” that must be respected, these are the ones we must accept even when they seem incomprehensible to us.
This doesn´t mean that we need to take a passive attitude when it comes to these situations. In some cases, we can guide the child along a path, help him understand and evaluate the choice that he or she made, but always respecting the uniqueness of each child.
This form of respect for what the child chooses and decides will help him or her to become an adult that is aware of his or her own needs, desires, and impulses. And respects both his and the other’s limits.
Listening to, understanding, and accepting the emotions, the choices, and the unique personality of a child also means paying attention to, understanding, and accepting oneself. This is what, sometimes, makes everything more difficult. Because growing up is a wonderful thing, but it is also, undoubtedly, a tiring path!