Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Reason Your Child May Be Testing You

The other day as we were sitting at the breakfast table, Benedict slowly started inching onto the table. Looking right at me, he scooted his bum onto the table.

I will not let you sit on the table, I told him decidedly, hardly looking up from my toast.

He quietly sat back in his chair.



Why does a child do things they know they are not supposed to do? If they are not being disobedient for the sake of being bad, as I know they never are, why do they stare us in the eye as they do something off-limits?

Sometimes they need to be redirected, given an appropriate way to fulfill an inner need, and sometimes they are really just testing us.

Like a person might dip a toe into a swimming pool.


Is my parent really in control? Can I trust them to be the leader?
Did they really mean it when they set this limit? Will they stick to it?
What about if I do this?


What Answer Are We Giving?

If you overreact to your child by becoming agitated, angry or uncomfortable you send the message, which children are very capable of receiving, that you are not in control.

In fact, by letting yourself become unsettled by their actions, you are showing them they have control over you.

And children are not actually comfortable in this position (because they are not supposed to be).





Saftey (And Freedom) Within Limits

Children test us because they want to know that we are confidently in control. This is the cornerstone of Janet Lansbury's podcast Unruffled, which I highly recommend if you want to listen to some great advice on this topic.


  • Children test us because they want the safety of knowing their limits
  • So that they can act in true freedom within them.


I think about this part of parenting like a swimming pool.

The deep end is fenced off by floating buoys which signal where the drop off is.
Before you know how to swim in deep water, this barrier helps you to know where you will be safe.
Knowing this gives you the confidence to practice and explore within the safety of the limit without being afraid of what is beyond your capabilities.

Children need to know we are in control, that we are confidently capable of guiding and loving them, even at their worst. They need the safety of knowing their limits so that they may develop freely and comfortably within them.

“Let us leave the life free to develop within the limits of the good, and let us observe this inner life developing. This is the whole of our mission.” – Maria Montessori



Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I would also love to hear any suggestions for posts you would like me to write about. And if you are interested in following along in our daily adventures, follow us on Instagram where I post daily.

God bless,
Olivia Fischer

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