Parenting

Rebel, rebel: my three-step plan for handling three-year old hellraisers

Are you a rebel or a rule follower?

If you know me in real life, you know that I am definitely a rule follower. I may not always agree with the rules, but I’ll follow them. (Unless they’re really stupid.) As far as I can tell, it just makes everbody’s life a bit easier. And I really dislike being in trouble. That definitely plays a part too.

I am the definitive goody two shoes. (It’s one of my more attractive qualities.)

My daughter, however, is a rebel. She does not like doing what she’s told. In fact, she’ll only do as she’s asked if it happily coincides with what she was planning on doing anyway. Telling her off has no effect. She simply does not care.

As a naturally obedient person, I find this attitude extremely difficult to understand. Actually, I find it impossible to understand. I just cannot comprehend why she would resist the rules so strongly. What is the point? If somebody asks you to do something, or not to do something, there’s usually a good reason.

Of course, she’s not the first person I’ve met who isn’t as compliant as I am. My little sister, for example, is much less obedient. When we were little I would beg her to please just do as she was told so that she wouldn’t get into trouble. Her being told off concerned me infinitely more than it did her. (I wonder where my daughter gets it from…)

One of my friends at university was the ultimate rebel. She appeared quiet and diminutive on the surface, but it soon emerged that she was pathologically incapable of following instructions. Despite having no notion of how to cook, she would not follow recipes. Her instinctive compulsion to not do as she was told was so strong that she very nearly wasn’t allowed to graduate. She had consistently refused to follow the rules of which classes she needed to take to earn her degree, resulting in her having done three years worth of work that didn’t actually fit any of the courses offered by our university. Mental.

So I know that there are people who don’t do rules. I knew that before I had children. The difference now, however, is that I’m the one in the position of authority. I’m the one that needs cooperation so that I don’t spend all day every day just asking my daughter to put her shoes on. Or her pants. Or eat. Or leave her brother alone. Or stop jumping on the settee BECAUSE SOMEBODY IS GOING TO GET HURT. Or whatever.

And to be honest, I’m at my wits end.

My daughter is a wonderful little girl, she really is. She’s just three and takes after her auntie 😉 I want to be able to enjoy her and her brother, not be exhausted from the constant conflict.

So I’ve come up with a three-step plan:

1. Accept that some people don’t like being told what to do, and that my daughter, however incomprehensibly, is one of them.

2. Read How to Talk so Little Kids will Listen again and put what I read into practice.

If you haven’t read this book and you have children aged 2-7, do. The tools can take some work, but they do work (most of the time), if you have the energy.

3. Get some energy.

I’ll be honest, this is where the plan falls down somewhat. But once I’ve sorted that, I’m sure I’m on to a winner.

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