We know that boundaries are important for our children. We know that the lack of boundaries actually breeds insecurity, but did you know that we moms can get so bogged down with rules that it’s hard to know what is what. Here is one rule you should focus on.
I’ll never forget the day.
It was a day like any other… except… well…
Except my 2 year old had taken off his dirty diaper and wiped poop all over the walls.
And the floors.
And his bed.
I nearly died. I might have laughed except it was the second time he had done it. That week. I was at a loss… I mean… doesn’t he know that’s disgusting? Isn’t he aware that poop smells and one does not want their room to be covered in it?
All manner of consequences went through my head. Some of these 32 consequences were on the tip of my tongue. How could we impress upon him this was a bad behavior?
Thankfully, my husband cleaned it up. He’s more meticulous than I am and I was busy taking his actions personally and trying to determine where I’d gone wrong as a mom.
I got down on my knees, made eye contact with my beloved destroyer, and told him not to do that again. And he never did.
Inside, without knowing why, I’d adopted the principle of what others now call…
The Ten Year Rule.
When your child misbehaves, ask yourself this question….
Will they still be doing this in 10 years?
If the answer is no, pull an Elsa and let it go.
The 10 Year Rule
If your kids aren’t going to be doing this behavior (or its intensified cousin) in 10 years, then don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
Don’t create angst, a breach in relationship, or unnecessary power struggles over something that is age related and not a moral issue.
So how does this play out in real life?
Glad you asked.
In 10 Years Will They Still Be Doing This?
Kids are kids.
They are often doing childish things, not foolish things. They don’t know high from low or in between and it’s our job to teach them. As best as possible, we do this by providing a foundation of love and acceptance.
So when you feel tempted to fly off the handle, become an angry mom, or feel like a failure, ask yourself these types of questions.
Will my child still be rubbing his poop on the wall at 12?
Will my daughter meltdown if she doesn’t get her pink plate at 14?
Will my son continue to put on his shorts backwards and his shoes on the wrong feet at 13?
When we had to go outside because the waiting room was too quiet for my rowdy boys. We played Simon Says. No one got in trouble.
If the answer to these and similar questions is no, then don’t make it a huge deal. Sure, you will need to instruct, coach, and keep appropriate boundaries within your home, but you can relax knowing this is not a hill to die on.
In 10 Years Will This Behavior Have Escalated?
On the other hand, there are some behaviors that we want to nip in the bud as quickly as possible. We don’t want our children to continue these habits or – worse – to develop more severe behaviors because we didn’t intervene.
Here are some behaviors you will want to address. These are behaviors that are worth the effort and fight it may take to help eradicate them. Some of these behaviors may include:
- backtalk (difference between stating opinion and backtalk)
There will be others. We want to give our children the benefit of the doubt, but when we can no longer deny that our kids are exhibit behaviors that will only get worse as they get older, we must step in.
In 10 years lying might look like sneaking out. Stealing something from a sibling and covering it up might look like stealing from a store. Refusal to comply with your instructions might mean outright hostility towards you.
In 10 Years Will We Laugh About This?
In my humble opinion, one of the best tools in a mama’s toolbox is a sense of humor. You can laugh, cry, or rage. Sometimes laughing makes it all better. If you think the behavior is something that is a tad mischievous, but childish… laugh and move on.
If your child doesn’t know better and isn’t trying to hurt anyone, but does something a bit destructive or annoying, correct and move on. Try to see the cuteness in it and go about your day.
Remember my son who likes poop?
Well, he likes pee too.
The other day he was supposed to be napping and he was trying to sneak out of his room, grab toothpaste, and rub it into the carpet. I caught him, calmly told him to go back into his room because it wasn’t time to come out.
A while later when I went to get him, I saw a puddle on the floor by the door.
“Son,” I said, “you know you’re not supposed to pee on the floor.”
To that my son calmly replied, “I didn’t pee pee on the floor. I peed on the door and it fell on the floor because you wouldn’t let me out.”
Let’s hope that’s still not happening in 10 years…
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