I recently heard a renowned local child psychologist tell her audience that a strong willed child needs more limits, which made me revisit Dr Tsabary’s advice on the subject of consciously setting limits, in her book ‘The Awakened Family’. The words that the psychologist used to convey her message were ‘smaller backyard with a smaller fence’. The whole audience was mesmerized by her words. This confused me a lot. First of all, I am not a fan of that metaphor because it makes me think of my children as wild animals that need to be tamed. Respect for my children is my core parenting value. Secondly, my own experience tells me that imposing more limits on a strong willed child is not a good idea because you will constantly be in conflict with the child and run the risk of breaking that connection with them eventually. My experience tells me that SWC’s need a strong connection and a constant reinforcement of that connection with their parents (and siblings). Yes, limits are necessary and need to be set but I have learned from my own experience that my SWC needs a few firm limits as necessary, like any other kid. Then those limits need to be discussed and negotiated proactively (if possible) to get the SWC on board. The challenge that I face is in motivating my SWC to honor the limits. It’s a lot of work but once he gets on board, I have noticed that he will honor that limit willingly, even reminding his siblings when he anticipates them breaking that limit. Such is the integrity of an SWC.
There is a lot of conflicting advice out there on this subject, which in my opinion, raises the importance of conscious parenting. When as parents we take the time to know our children, to proactively think about how we could make choices that would help our children attain their highest potential and communicate those choices to our children respectfully, then we will not feel the urge to blindly apply someone else’s advice to our lives 🙏🏼