Testing Limits

September 24th, 2013

Some challenges and discipline issues are age-appropriate. A child’s job is to test limits; a parent’s job is to set limits. These are conflicting job descriptions! Power struggles and discipline issues often arise from this discrepancy. There are discipline issues that are inevitable; there are “good” power struggles.

One-year-olds are working on impulse control and act out, hit and bite; two-year-olds struggle with sharing; three-year-olds can be very independent one minute and very dependent the next; and four-year-olds test limits as part of their emotional development. Five-year-olds think their parents are dumber than dirt and six-year-olds often say “I hate you!” as they are working on separating from their parents and identifying with their peer group.

Children often first test out their independence and flex their “emotional muscles” in the safest place: their relationship with their parents. There are discipline issues and power struggles that are important to have.

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