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Can You Control Your Kid's Behavior?

Can't You Control That Kid?

We're excited to share this post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we will be bringing you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts over on BabyCenter, including this post from Joyce Slaton with her tips for disciplining your children!

Few things make me see red quicker than that question, or its multifarious cousins: Can't you keep that kid quiet? Don't you think your child should be sitting down? Why are you letting him make that noise? Ask these questions in my presence, and you are asking for a swift lecture in a very snappy voice that will leave you feeling about a half-inch tall.

Related: Stupid Things Parents Do

So in her blog post yesterday "I'm at My Wit's End as a Mom," when Kristina wrote "I suck at being a mom because I cannot control my kid," I wanted to reach right through the screen and give her a big, fat hug. Oh, Kristina. You don't suck! What sucks is the system that tells us we should be able to control other human beings who are all id and absolutely no superego.

We have such a thing in America about control. We're supposed to be happy and carefree, calm and in control, no matter what's going on in our lives. We're supposed to look on the bright side. We're supposed to stand quietly in line with composed faces, keeping our bodies still and our mouths closed. We're supposed to lead a line of children following meekly along behind us like ducklings, right into the restaurant where they are to sit and eat their salads, speaking only when spoken to. Children are supposed to sleep in their own beds, share without asking, say thanks for horrible presents, and wear whatever mommy damn well says to.


More after the jump.

And some kids do it! I have seen it with my own two eyes, kids who are so placid they'll do whatever mommy says. So maybe mommy can be forgiven for thinking she has great parenting skills: look at the results, this wonderful kid who follows right along with the program. Here I am, in control.

But it's not so. It's not you. It's the kid, and the control is an illusion. You got a get-along, go-along kind of kid, and aren't you lucky? Sure you are. However, there's no guarantee you'll stay that way.

"You know, there's an up side to having a kid who drives you crazy as a toddler," advised Violet's pediatrician on one of our visits, when I was probably complaining about how she wouldn't sleep/eat/wear when I wanted her to (take your pick!).

"What, they get it all out of their systems when they're little and then they're calmer when they’re older?" I asked, wiping away tears. I was always crying then.

"Nah," he said, making a dismissive gesture with his hand that dashed my hopes. "But the parent has already figured out early that the kid has his own mind, they've argued it out, and learned how to work with each other. Kids that turn rebellious all of a sudden as teens surprise the hell out of their parents when they're not used to it."

Faint comfort, I thought at the time, but as the years wear on, I see his point. A child is not a TV to be switched on and off with a remote, or a dog to be trained to respond to commands, or some kind of limb of your big parent tree. A child is a small person, with thoughts and plans that are sometimes very different from yours, and a body and mind of his or her own. You can guide, demonstrate, request, threaten, demand, and beg, but you cannot, cannot, control. And the sooner you let go of that illusion of control, the sooner you can get to know the small, frustrating, totally fascinating person you made.

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Source: Flickr User mdanys

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