I don't think I'm alone in being around kids who like to "toe the line" so to speak. When you think about it, it makes sense why they do it. Childhood is about learning and exploring their environment, learning the things they can and can't do, learning how to push the limits to see what they can get away with, and what will leave them in trouble. Here are some tips that I've found can be helpful with the "line toe-ers" in my life.
Speak in a calm voice
- With my nephew, yelling at him doesn't work. He will either cover his ears, or just get mad. When I am reacting, instead of calmly acting to his actions, we both end up upset.
- When I explained to my nephew why he couldn't touch my dress, that it was for my wedding and it can get dirty easily, he was much more willing to comply. Calmly explaining the reasoning behind my requests or denials helps him to learn and understand, and can take some of the mystery out of the objects. With my nieces and nephews when they're young, letting them know that something is "owie" would often prevent them from trying to get into something that could hurt them.
Give them something to relate to
- Telling kids a story relating to the concept that you are teaching helps them to be able to understand what you are saying. I told my nephew a story about a group of people who weren't supposed to eat chocolate cake, since it was bad for them. A man got them to eat chocolate cake by first introducing chocolate chip cookies, then doubling the amount of chips in each cookie, etc, until the people were used to eating chocolate cake. I then related it to his actions, about trying to get away with some little things, and how it can lead to doing bigger things wrong.
Let them know it's okay to make mistakes
- We all make mistakes. It's part of learning. Letting kids know that it's OK to make mistakes, but that they need to learn from them, helps them to accept limits, and give them a secure environment to explore.
- When kids are curious about something, explore it with them! Then they don't have to break the rules to find out what they are curious about, and it gives you time to be together. When you explore together, kids can do it in a safe way, and you don't end up with a huge mess when they get into a cupboard or shelf they aren't supposed to.
What are some other ways that you have found help your kids to not toe the line and push boundaries?