Your Internal Alarm System

defiance defiant parenting parenting myths parenting styles strong-willed kids warmth Oct 19, 2021
Your Internal Alarm System

Today let’s discuss a new concept that we really want you to understand.

Let’s use another analogy.

If you were to break into a home or business that had an alarm system, as soon as you broke in the alarm would go off. That alarm is indicating that you have crossed a boundary

The owner gets to decide when it’s okay to enter into the space and when it’s not. You can go to the store when it's open and the alarm is off. But you cannot enter when it’s beyond their opening hours. When that boundary is not honored, that boundary’s alarm goes off. 

What most of us don’t know is that our bodies are wired with an internal alarm system.  We feel certain emotions that we may not even be aware of, whenever our personal boundaries are crossed.  

The feelings that we start to notice in these situations are resentment or agitation. 

Here’s an example. If your child was really disrespectful to you-- let’s say you just cooked dinner and they threw a fit about it and threw the food on the floor--you naturally would feel some sort of resentment, frustration, or agitation. 

Some parents would shove this down and say, “I just need more patience”.

And yes, we do need to be patient with our kids as they learn and grow.  But we also want to teach our kids how we will and will not be treated.  The home is the best place for them to learn critical interpersonal skills.

We also want you to start paying attention to those feelings. Because having an awareness of what those are will help you see what personal boundaries need to be set.

Let’s go back to the dinner example. 

If you made that dinner and they threw a fit and you felt bothered by it, we want you to see that as an alarm going off. The boundary has been crossed because you don't feel respected as an individual. That’s when you know it’s time to have boundaries on that.

Don’t get us wrong, our kids may dislike the food we prepare because they are entitled to their own opinion. That is within their boundary and they own that. 

The key here is how it was communicated. That is where you set the boundary.

A response that can show the child that you understand their experience AND you have boundaries could simply be.

“Bummer, throwing food is not OK.  Dinner time is done.  New foods can be tricky and I don’t expect you to like everything. Next time, express that kindly.” 

Note: with really young kids, this is more than they will understand.  With them, just say “Bummer, we don’t throw food.” and put dinner away or get them down from the table.  It won’t take too many times before they become a delightful person to eat with.

This is not mean.  This is teaching your kids how to treat other humans and it is ensuring that you don’t resent your child because you allowed them to treat you disrespectfully.  

Additionally, you are modeling for your kids that they should have boundaries in relationships, too.  You would NEVER want your child to let people yell at them, throw food, and expect to be fed something different after having a tantrum.

So here’s our invitation to you: In the next week, pay attention to when you start to feel that resentment and agitation and see what’s causing it. Then assess what boundary needs to be set for that.

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