E+E Column: Pushing Boundaries

Isaac has always been more prone to pushing boundaries than his elder sister, I suppose it’s just in his nature. However recently, he’s been taking it to a new level. And to be honest, I’m not quite sure how to deal with it. Sophia has always been curious and prone to exploring but if told no, as long as provided with a good reason, she’s been quite happy to accept the boundary and carry on her merry way. Not so with Isaac. Take yesterday for, example. He had helped me make some malteser biscuits, ready for a picnic today. Once baked and cooled, he asked if he could have one. I said no because they were for the picnic today and it was almost dinner time. He said he was hungy to which I repeated that we would be eating dinner soon. He pottered off.

I popped out to the garden to get in the laundry and upon my return, five minutes later, was met with Isaac who had an unidentifiable look on his face. Then he casually announced that he had taken the tin of biscuits to his bedroom, ready for tomorrow. I said that they didn’t need to be in his bedroom and asked him to bring them down. Off he trotted…and then, ‘Mum, one of them got broken in the tin whilst I was carrying them’. I peek in, and see a half eaten biscuit. ‘Isaac, this looks like a bite mark, did you eat it?’ He protested his innocence and declared the remainder of said biscuit to be in the tin. I confirmed that it wasn’t and suggested the biscuit to either be in his room or his tummy. A cheeky smile flitted across his face and I had my answer.

Now, this wasn’t a massive indiscretion as things go. But it was indicative of a larger issue. Recently, time and time again, when told no, he will defiantly do exactly what he has been told not to. It is beyond frustrating, especially when it is an issue of safety as it often is. I’m not a fan of reward and punishment based discipline personally but apart from maintaining distinct boundaries and talking to him when they are broken, I’m not quite sure what else we can do. I’m guessing it’s a case of running the course and that as long as we remain consistent, eventually the message will sink it. I like the idea of ‘natural consequences’, for example, your child refuses to wear a coat despite it being cold or wet. Rather than having an epic battle, if they don’t listen to your reasonable suggestion that they do wear a coat and explanations as to why, they’ll soon discover that you were right upon spending a few minutes outside. In this case, Isaac could have ended up with one less biscuit when we actually came to eat them. Although just to be awkward, it turns out he didn’t like them anyway! Sods law in play there… I am only 6 years into this parenting game though and am quite happy to learn new and better techniques if folk are willing to share. So if anyone has any thoughts on the matter, I’d love to hear them! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a picture of the biscuit-stealing monkey in question – hard to tell him off with a face like that!

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