Assertive or Defiant?

Recently, Phoebie has learnt to “talk back”. When she does something that isn’t right, I shoot her a look and she smacks the table and say, “No!”. It is as though she is voicing my disapproval of whatever she did.

Nope, I do not like that at all. It feels as though she is defiant.

But then, I also realize that how she respond is a reflection of how I respond to her when she misbehaves. Anticipating what I will say or do, she is one step ahead of me.

Yesterday, at Science Centre’s MacDonald’s, it was very crowded and because Phoebie was getting restless, she leaned her stroller which was folded. This caused her stroller to fall and I got upset because I had already told her not to lean on the stroller. I smacked her on the hand and she immediately smacked me back. This got me even angrier and I smacked he hand again. “You do not smack me! Understand?” I told her. The moment I said that, I knew I had contradicted myself.

She cannot smack me but I can smack her. What logic is that?

I then told myself that she was restless because she was already done with lunch and didn’t understand why we were still waiting. So I told my friends that I would bring Phoebie to the box office, and used the chance to bring her for a walk so that she didn’t have to wait anymore.

One of my friends recently shared an article about preschoolers’ tantrums that was written from a preschooler’s perspective and I found it interesting. It made me think that I am sometimes too caught up with what I have planned that I overlook the most important reason for the plans – my daughter.

Sure, there are times when discipline needs to be in place, but sometimes, it’s a lot more about the emotional needs of the child.

A few of my SAHM friends and I were talking and we noticed how much our kids talked like us. We may not realize it sometimes, but when we take a step back to observe, we sometimes really go, “Goodness, that sounded like me…”. Only difference is, our children may not always use the same “catch phrases” in the same scenarios as we do.

20130627-235023.jpg In”Jo Frost’s Toddler SOS”, she talks about being real with the developmental stages of preschoolers.

A lot of times, I think I forget that Phoebie is after all, not even 3 years old yet. Just because she can speak well doesn’t mean she can process things the way I do, or rather, the way I expect her to.

Like an adult, a child has moods too. We are not always in a good mood or a compliant mood, so why are we expecting that of our child?

One of the things discussed in the link above is choosing our battles. And I remember one of my SAHM friends telling me that. And I am beginning to agree with this. There is no need to insist on what Phoebie wants to wear sometimes. If we are going to a cold place and she insists on wearing a t-shirt, I can always bring a sweater for her and let her wear it when we get there. If she wants to wear her sandals instead of shoes and it’s not going to hurt her, so be it.

Another thing I like that is mentioned in the link is reinforcing good behaviour.

How many times do we find our child beaming with pride when we praise them for a good job? And how many times do we see them crying or sulking because we harp on a misbehaviour? What we highlight is what the child focuses on.

Phoebie isn’t the easiest child at meal times, but when she is able to feed herself and we praise her for it, she looks gleefully at us and continue feeding herself (until she next gets distracted again). When she shares things with her friends and we praise her, she is kinder with her friends.

But of course, parents need reminders all the time to reinforce good behaviour, because we tend to be caught up with an upsetting situation.

So is Phoebie learning to be assertive? Or is she sometimes being defiant? Thinking about it now, I choose to say, she is learning. Learning her will, learning to make choices, learning about consequences, and learning about cause and effect.

Not an easy phase to handle, but we will survive, as long as we recognize and acknowledge our child’s growing needs.


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