Children and Emotions

How much is too much?….control

How Much is too Much?

My mom and I had a long car ride this weekend, she is a teacher also (first grade), so we got to talking about behaviors in the classroom. We have quite a few friends that are teachers or work in a school setting and if feels like everyone has been talking about how behavior problems are getting more and more extreme. We see it on the news, sadly very often. What has changed? What has provoked the change in behavior?

There are so many aspects in life that contribute to this, media, society, culture, too much attention, not enough, the wrong kind of attention, pressure, stress, home life, friends, school, having too much control or not enough…. I believe it’s not just one but many factors that contribute to extreme behaviors. I feel that control could play a large role in the equation.

I know that with toddlers giving them too much control is not a good thing. Yes, we need to negotiation with them and allow them to do things their way (WHENEVER it’s appropriate and safe). We also need to set boundaries, keeping our expectations realistic, because boundaries keep children safe. I feel this is true for all children and adults too.

In No Bad Kids, Janet Lansbury states,

“Educator Janet Gonzalez-Mena used the following analogy to describe a child’s need for boundaries: Imagine driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings, we will drive across it slowly and tentatively. But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with ease and confidence. This is how a young child feels in regard to limits in his environment.” A toddler’s need for boundaries

What a powerful image! I believe that when children don’t have boundaries, leading to too much control, they either hold back or act out. Either way they let us know, “this is too much, I can’t handle this responsibility.” We just have to be watching and listening carefully for these types of messages. How much is too much control? And at what cost?

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