Disciplining your kids takes time and effort, regardless of their various personality styles. While their individual personality style may explain their behavior, it does not excuse it (nor does it relieve you of the responsibility to address it). Understanding the complexity of their personality styles will help you determine the best approaches to take in effectively raising them.Don't lose hope, though, for your efforts won't have to go on forever - only for about the first 18 years of your child's life.
Friday, April 15, 2005
On being "blessed with compliant children"...
In conversation, recently, someone remarked that my wife and I were "blessed with compliant children." The remark was probably motivated by the fact that our children are a slightly better behaved (to put it mildly)than the child of the person who made the remark. Apparently this person believes that a child's behavior is directly tied to whether or not the child is "compliant," which must be, if we were simply lucky enough to be "blessed" with them, purely a matter of their genetics. My response to her was that if she thinks our kids are compliant, then she needs to spend some time at our house to see how they act throughout an entire day. Now, most of the time, our kids are reasonably well behaved. But there are certainly times when their human self-centeredness shines through and they prove to be difficult (to say the least). Our four year-old, for instance, has recently been putting us through a loop with regards to her direct defiance of direction from either me or my wife. It is taking a lot of effort for us to consistently address such defiance. But therein is where we find the actual heart of the matter. It's not at all a matter of parents being "blessed with compliant children." It's a matter of parents applying consistent effort with regards to the discipline of their children. Child psychologists, such as James Dobson, have described how we all have unique, in-built, personality traits. While anyone's personality is certainly a complex matter, the two general categories that Dobson describes (for children) are known as the "strong-willed" child and the "compliant" child. Yet, I think the whole idea of the "strong-willed" child has been misinterpreted by a great many parents. While Dobson has given us the two categories in the hopes of helping us understand how to discipline each personality style, many parents simply see the "strong-willed" category as the reason (or excuse?) for their child's ill behavior. After all, so they rationalize, they obviously weren't "blessed with a compliant child." But such thinking misses the point entirely. If it were merely a matter of chance - that is, whether or not a couple was blessed with a child possessing a certain personality style - then I should consider my wife and me pretty "lucky." After all, it was a 50/50 shot with each kid, and we came out ahead on two shots in a row! That's nothing, however, for there seems to be an endless supply of luck for other couples. Indeed, we have a family in our homeschool group that has nine children (that's right! The number 9. 5 plus 4, 108 divided by 12... NINE). Despite the fact that each one of their nine kids is an individual, they can still be identified as generally fitting within either one of the two broad categories referenced above. Some are compliant and some are strong-willed. But, and here's the kicker, they are all well behaved. Wow! Consider that for a moment - the sheer luck involved in the cards they happened to be dealt. But is it really probable that these parents defied the odds and were simply "blessed" with nine compliant children? Let me state what should not have to be stated: