The Boundary Stage

When the week-long fever receded it must have taken with it a good chunk of Titus’ good nature. He now screams and cries over almost everything that does not please him. Like having his socks removed for him when he was trying to do it unsuccessfully himself.

Oh, wait. Perhaps the Terrible Twos has made an early arrival.

Then a fellow mummy friend shared this link with me, and it introduced to me the idea of The Boundary Stage, what the Danes referred to instead of the Terrible Twos. This is a stage where toddlers test what they can or cannot do.

Oh I remember that, just that my own Boundary Stage extended to my pre-adult years when I constantly tested my poor, suffering parents’ patience by having close male friends (they didn’t believe in platonic relationships between different genders), wearing midriffs and staying out late without informing them (they wouldn’t agree to it anyway). But looking back now, I must have been a rather easy child. At least I didn’t take drugs, disappear for days only to return with a neon-coloured mohawk, and get myself pregnant.

Anyway, this post about The Boundary Stage reinforces my resolution to be a firm mum, even if it means I’m the less popular parent, which I already am.

Here’s the deal during The Boundary Stage: the parent sets the boundaries for behaviour, toddler learns that boundaries exist and tries to break them (I would expect nothing less, obviously), parent maintains consistent boundaries regardless of the tantrums, tears and retaliation bites, toddler learns that there’s no way else around these boundaries and forms a strong foundation for good behaviour.

Last evening, Titus screamed and wailed most piteously at bath-time because he wanted to continue watching TV. The doting mother-in-law snatched him from my arms and insisted on skipping the bath because he obviously was still unwell and the past few sponging occasions had scarred the poor child for life. She dressed him up again and set themselves in front of the telly.

And I knew then deep in my heart that this will just set the precedent for similar behaviour in the future when he wants to skip his bath or anything we need him to do. That thought made me mad. Mad that I, as his mother, am not able to do what I think is right for my child without offending the family elder.

But I shall be firmer now, knowing that the testing of limits is real and I need Titus to learn to behave within boundaries.


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