Or rather, “Where do I end, and the world begins?”
This is the fundamental question that children raised in permissive homes grow up never having answered and it’s a vital question if we hope to keep our children safe and healthy throughout their lives.
This is also the question that children ask during the second and third years of life. If an answer does not come during this developmental stage it becomes very difficult, though not impossible, to learn later.
Permissive parenting is overly concerned with whether or not a child is happy. This may be motivated by two things:
- A genuine desire for the child to experience nothing unpleasant in life
- A discomfort/fear of the child’s negative emotions or expressions of them.
While I am 100% in the attachment parenting camp, I must also admit that if a parent does not understand boundaries themselves they will struggle with how to move, within AP, from the infant to the toddler stages.
Without going into the fullness of the developmental stages, I will say that I have come to sum up the behavior issues of two year olds by asking the question, “How much control do I have over myself?” This means that it is the parents’ job to answer this question with specifics that help the child become empowered to make decisions about their own existence. Two year olds are starting to dress themselves, put on their own sandals, and many potty train. Most attempts to help are met with, “ME DO IT!” This is NOT defiance! This is maturity. Granted, the way this development of self control is expressed is often immature, but that is corrected by a simple technique of scripting (offering alternative words that are more appropriate).