Does this happen in your home? Your four year old child enters the kitchen where you have set out his breakfast in a blue bowl and poured his drink into a Thomas cup. He reminds you that his favourite colour is green and he wants the Toy Story cup. You smile and make the switch. As you begin to butter his toast he tells you that he wants Vegemite today rather than peanut butter.
After breakfast you sit down on the couch to read a story but your child wants to sit on the other couch and read a different story. He then tells you that he is going outside to play on the swing and disappears out the door. Great morning – no conflict!
At lunchtime you ask your child to put away his toys and come to lunch as you have to go to an appointment shortly. Your child responds, “I will eat later as I want to play with my toys”. You repeat your instructions firmly and get the same response. Things are beginning to escalate and soon a skirmish erupts.
Your child has been making all his own decisions all morning – he is master of his destiny and you dare try to change that?
Your child has become ‘wise in his own eyes’. Such children are not developing good decision-making techniques but rather they end up going places they should not go and saying things they should not say.
Too often parents rush their child to grow up by thinking that they are teaching them skills that are inappropriate for their age.
A young child does not always have the neural pathways to make choices that show an understanding of consequences.
When a child has learned to be happy with no choices, they are ready to start making choices and will appreciate that freedom and not abuse it.
Negotiation and compromise are freedoms that are earned by showing that you understand and value the relationship with your parents.