Boundaries...Helping or Hindering
Boundaries…Helping or Hindering?
It is obvious that today’s world is a fast paced one. Along with parents working, we are shuffling our children from baseball, to volleyball, to church activities, to Karate classes all over Colorado Springs,etc. etc. In our desire to ensure that our children are well rounded, we have gotten them involved in every activity imaginable. Then it happens…OVERLOAD! “Mom, I don’t want to go Karate or Martial Arts anymore. It’s always the same thing.” “Dad, I don’t want to do baseball anymore its boring.” “Mom and Dad, I am tired of just running around in soccer.” For some strange reason, this seems to take the parents by surprise. By pulling them out of these activities are you helping or hindering your child?
It seems that in today’s world, parents are doing less parenting and more negotiating with their child. Some parents have lost the ability to see the difference between what their child wants and what their child needs. Sometimes when we first meet with the parents and the child we see that their child is running all around, disobeying the parents, and in control of their parents. The parent then excuses the child’s behavior by saying the child is “high strung” or “full of energy”. Seeking us for help with the child’s behavior is admirable, but excusing the behavior does not provide an avenue to address the behavior. We often feel better by placing a label or initials to our child’s name because it is often looked at as justification to behavior. We have all heard over the last decade the increased emergence of children with ADHD, ADD, OCD. We understand that those diagnoses are real because we either have them ourselves or have children with them, but these diagnoses should not be excuses for or used to justify the child’s behavior. Instead those diagnoses should be used to set a course of action to best reach the child. It doesn’t take long for us to diagnose the real problem “CRYBCYDSB”. Some of you may have heard of this disorder. It has been around for much longer than the other disorders. It is called the “Child Runs Your Butt Cuz You Don’t Set Boundaries” syndrome.
We can come up with many reasons why a child is acting out, but the truth of the matter is that a major reason why the child acts out is because they have learned to do so. The parents have allowed the child to act a certain why which the child has learned gives them a certain favorable response from the parents (child getting what he/she wants). The parents allow the child’s actions by either:
1. Justifying the behavior by placing initials on it or using fancy excuses such as “high strung” etc
2. Not setting boundaries.
3. Never enforcing or not consistently enforcing the penalties for crossing those boundaries.
When joining Calvary Family Martial Arts & Fitness we make it clear to the parent that there will be a time when their child is “bored”, “tired”, “just doesn’t want to do it anymore”, etc. That is when the parent must PARENT. You see, baseball is for a season, volleyball for a season, football for a season, the lessons taught in our Hybrid Hapkido system are lifelong lessons. What we do as professionals is not just supply a “fun” activity, but a set of skills that may save your child’s life and your life as well. This means repetition, which sometimes means “boredom” from the eyes of the child. Yes, many schools have come up with inventive ways to “amuse” you’re child. We instead have come up with inventive ways to instruct your child.
Remember, our goal is to transfer what the child learns in our controlled environment to your home and to the world that your child interacts in daily. To do this means teaching with repetition. For this to take place means that parent must see past “boredom” and see the result of progression in safety, confidence, and life saving skills that your child is learning.
We had a parents say that they use to take their child to another school but after just a month the child wasn’t excited anymore and would cry when it was time to go to class. I asked the mother has he ever shown that behavior before (i.e. the crying) her reply was “Oh Yeah”. So I asked her why have you brought your child to our school. She said that she has heard great things about us and wants him to “give us a try”. I politely explained to her that it is not the program of the last school that failed her child. It is her allowing the child to dictate to her what is acceptable that is failing the child. In other words, the mom is failing her child. She simply did not see that she had taught him to cry and he will get his way. When she finally realized this you could see the enlightenment in her face. Her child, who is only 5 has learned that through his action of crying and having a tantrum, he obtains what he wants. He is imposing his will on the parents. In a sense, HE is running the family, rather than the parents. Again, is giving in to his demands helping or hindering the child?
As a parent we must do what we know the child needs, not cater to their wants. Why is that so hard to comprehend these days? Maybe because too often the parents are worried about hurting the child’s feelings or that they might not be viewed any longer as the child’s friend. Reality check folks, you ARE hurting your child by catering to his feelings instead of imposing your will due to the maturity that you are supposed to have as the adult. Parents you will have lots of time to be your child’s friend when they have grown up and are out of your home. Until that time, don’t desire to be their friend…Be Their Parent.
One of my sons recently said to me that he doesn’t want to do Hapkido anymore. I asked him why. His answer was the usual one “I want to play more with my friends” which means he wants more video game time with his friends. So then he said “So can I quit.” Tell me parents, do you think pulling my son from Hapkido would help or hinder him?
I looked at him smiled and lovingly said “No”. “But Dad” he said “You said we can talk to you about anything.” “You can” I replied “But don’t get it twisted, talking with me does not mean that you always get your way. I have you in class because it is good for you. It has built confidence, strength, and focus. You now know when things are tough, that when you hurt, you can still keep going. Why should I pull you out of something like that?” He gave me the silent treatment for a few days. He would sit to and from Hapkido in the car and not say a thing, just remain angry. After the second day he began talking. I said to him “Oh the attitude and the silence are gone.” He said to me “Yeah, they weren’t changing anything anyway.” EXACTLY! He learned that I am the parent; he does not instruct me. I know what is best for him and he WILL do this activity. When he is older and out of my home, no longer under my financial assistance, then he can choose all he wishes. But for now these choices are mine to make for him simply because I know what is best. Since that boundary has been set, he now proclaims how much he loves Hapkido and reminds me to practice with him at home. He was seeking that boundary and I gave it to him. Are you parents listening to the requests of your child? When he is talking back to you, do you really hear what he is saying? When he does not do as you ask at home, do you really hear what he saying? He saying where is my boundaries and to place clear boundaries…THEN ENFORCE THEM.
This is another typical type of conversation between parent and child. “Mom I don’t want to do Karate anymore.” “Ok, what do you want to do now?” says mom. “I want to do basketball.” A few weeks or months go by “Dad, I don’t want to do basketball anymore?” “Why” asks Dad. “It’s not fun anymore.” Do you think pulling the child from this activity would help or hinder your child? What do you think Mom and Dad would do? Yep, they pull him out. Parents you have to realize that you are conditioning your child to quit when things become tough or boring. YOU are conditioning your child to never complete or finish things that take effort. The valuable things worth learning in life are not always fun, but take many repetitions to learn.
I remember back in my military days one of our instructors looked at the group of parents who came to our graduation and told them “You had 18 plus years to screw up your kids, I was given 8 weeks to straighten them out.” How very true that statement is. We were given instructions, and we knew what the punishment was for not following those instructions. Those penalties were clear and consistently enforced. It molded us into following within the boundaries to avoid the penalties. Those penalties and punishments were put into place for our benefit. As parents that is a model to follow with our children.
I hear parents say “Master C, what should I do? Little Johnny said he doesn’t want to clean his room and he talks back to me when I ask him to do things.” “How long has this been going on?” I ask. “He’s been like this since he was 2.” Ok, parents do you see? Years have gone by and you have allowed this behavior to continue. This same parent will sit with me the first day at class and ask if they can enroll their child on a month to month membership. Let me remind you what a wise man said earlier “You had X years to screw up your kid.” How is that you expect us to permanently change a behavior in only a few months that you have taught them for years?
Parents are amazed how after the first class or a few of our classes their child is saying “Yes Sir or No Sir” to myself and the teaching staff. Their child is focusing and obeying. Parents routinely say “How do you do that?” The answer is simple…Consistency. Parents must consistently bring the child to our classes. We will consistently praise the child for making the correct choices and we will consistently penalize the child for making the wrong choices. This consistency supplies the child with structure and boundaries. The children now know the rules of the game so we know that if they make the wrong choices it is out of disobedience and we correct that behavior. Once you have established those same boundaries for your child at home and use positive as well as negative reinforcement to those boundaries the permanent change will appear.
A 4 year old girl was brought to us by her parents for training. A few days after being enrolled the little girl decided that she was not going to participate. Her father begged her to participate. One of our instructors named Miss Heather went over and asked if she could intervene. She got down on the child’s level, looked her in the eyes and said, “You are going to participate in class, because you do not have a choice. In addition to that, you will apologize to your father for disappointing him by not obeying.” The child got up, participated in class and then apologized to her father. Would allowing the child to not participate as her actions dictated, have helped or hindered the child in correcting this type of behavior? Miss Heather was able to see the request that the child was truly making…”Give me boundaries, Let me be the child and YOU parent”. Once the boundary was set, the child was able to have fun within those boundaries and voice to Miss Heather that she loves the class.
Children need to learn to look at the world through your experienced eyes, not bend you to see it through theirs. Otherwise, you are giving the child an inaccurate sense of reality. The world will not cater to your child or help them get every dream they desire. When you teach them that it can, you become their adversary, rather than their advocate.
A child wants to dive into the deep end of the pool, but refuses to take swimming lessons. One day while the child is standing by the deep end of the pool angry because he can’t dive in yet still defiant NOT to take swimming lessons, he slips into the pool. Sadly the choice the child has now is to either swim to the top or float to the top. This is a sad example of not meeting the child’s needs and giving into the child’s wants. The parent knows the child needs swimming lessons, but the child dictated it will not be done. The child won the battle, but lost the war. As parents we need to keep in mind what is needed for our children. They are young and do not yet have the ability to see how what we do will impact their lives for their lifetime. At Calvary Family Martial Arts & Fitness we are not just instructing the children, we are teaching the parents as well. The biggest advocate for a child can be his parents, but the parents can also be the child’s biggest adversary. Enroll your children into seasonal sports for the season, dedicate your time with your children in our Hybrid Hapkido program that serves you all for a lifetime. When doing so I can guarantee you that you will indeed be HELPING your child.