Understanding a disobedient child


Your day barely started and your precious bundle of joy refuses to put their clothes on and starts screaming from the top of their lungs calling you to read them a story. Instead, you want to get going, take a shower, have breakfast in peace and enjoy his laughs and giggles as he’s listening to every single order you give him. If this happened to you at least once, then stick around.

Ok, for those of you who have perfectly obedient children who eat everything on their plate, recite Shakespeare and play piano – this article is not for you. But if your children are strong minded and constantly testing your limits, let me tell you my story and how I deal with my little monster…

Paul is an adorable 3 year old with a very strong personality. He’s stubborn as a mule, very creative and impulsive, shy and inquisitive. The French have a great expression “les chiens ne font pas des chats” (the equivalent of “the tree doesn’t fall far from the bark). So no need to look any further… Our child is the perfect combination of his mother and his father. Luckily he inherited a nice blend of our qualities, but some of our “defects” as well (like impatience, restlessness, etc). In the end, how can I demand my child to stay calm when I’m impatient and I run daily like a chicken without a head getting stuff done? Or how can I ask my child not to flip out when I give him red socks instead of the ones he prefers (yellow) – wasn’t I in the first place, educating him to stand up for what he wants?

Isn’t it ironic how in their forming years, we teach them to be obedient, but when they grow older we tell them to stand up for themselves? In the end, when children are rebellious they want to make their voice heard whereas when they are obedient they know their voice is not valued and there’s no point in acting.

Alfie Kohn sums is up so well: “You can threaten or bribe a child into obedience for a little while but you are missing the big picture and failing to address the underlying cause [of why they may not want to do something] which may be environmental – such as rushing a tired child through an unfamiliar place – or they may be psychological, such as fear about something else. A very obedient or complaint child – it depends, some are more docile by temperament – but others have created a false self because they sense their parent will only love them if they are obedient. ”

Like all parents, we are faced with incredible challenges and in my experience up to this point, I can say that the work is never done and you have to constantly learn and rethink what you’re doing in order to raise your child as a self-sufficient, confident and autonomous individual. As I still have a long road ahead, I chose to “work with” my son rather then try to “change” my son and adopt a “talk less, ask more” attitude.

Sometimes I bite my tongue as he refuses to cooperate, other times I yell back because I’m tired too and I’d like to get going and other times I take a deep breath and count to 10. There are times when I feel helpless and times when I feel amused, but all in all my child is just as perfect as I’m imperfect.

Has your child ever made you lose your marbles? Feel free to share your parenting adventures – no judgement here 🙂


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