Anyone Else Struggle With The Idea that our Children "Test" us? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 1 Old 12-29-2001, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
cynthia mosher's Avatar
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does anyone else struggle with the idea that our children "TEST" us?

This topic was originally posted in this forum: Parenting Issues
Author Topic: does anyone else struggle with the idea that our children "TEST" us?
Mom x 3
Member posted 02-24-2001 12:18 PM
Okay, I've been thinking about this for awhile. (I really should be packing since we are moving in two weeks .....). When does our child go from being a perfect infant to a person that "tests" us? Doesn't the term "test" bring up negative connotations? Do kids really think of ways to push our buttons? Is it really their intent to cause conflict?
Or, could it be that they are trying to fufill a need, master a new skill, etc... I haven't read anything that supports my gut feelings, I just don't believe that my child is "trying" to create conflict. My theory may be in response to being taught that I was basically bad (oh, those Sunday school days!!). It doesn't seem to be a productive way to parent!

Perhaps we should term any period of conflict as our children "EXPLORING their boundries". It's a subtle difference but maybe enough to cause a shift in our paradigm of parenting. Can I see my child as "perfect" in every place of his/her life?

Anyone else had these thoughts? Thanks for sharing!!! I look forward to your response!! (Okay, I will go pack now).

nursing mother
Member posted 02-24-2001 12:36 PM
Hi, I have 5 children and boy do they know how to push our buttons. It is normal and natural for them to do that, but I have found out if I let them get away with it they think they can control me. I always tell them I am the boss and they ust obey, but I do listen and try to reason as best I can. If you can reason with a 2 year old. Children do need boundrys, they may kick, scream, cry , but they need firm control to help them deal with their frustration. I can't stand the thought that my 2 or 5 year old has control over me. By nature kids look after #1 and are selfish by nature, but I don't think that makes them "bad" they just need guidance and firmness. I do have a friend that her children control her and it is really sad, because she has no life, and she is beginning to resent being with them. Just a thought.

Member posted 02-24-2001 01:07 PM
I agree that "testing thier boundries" brings up bad connotations. I do believe that childen often do silly/dangerous/annoying stuff to find out where thier boundries are. I certainly don't feel they do just to drive us crazy. I really believe they have a need tast these boundries and make sure they are for real, but it is impotant to realize that she is testing boundries, not me and I shouldn't take it personally. I am very consistant with what her boundries are. Without this it would be like doing an experiment and getting different results every time. Very frustrating. Perhaps "experimenting" would be a better term to use as it involves forming a hypothesys and getting an expected result (for examole: If I bite mommy's unsespecting toes she will scream, dad will laugh and I will sit in time out. Not that this ever happens at our house )
I think this freedom to experiment will be healthy when she is older and can start testing herself and her precieved limitations.
On the up side "testing thier boundries" was definitely a step up from "trying my paitience".

By the way, we never did get packed and still got moved OK

[This message has been edited by lilyka (edited 02-24-2001).]

unregistered posted 02-24-2001 05:12 PM
I think that older children ( 5 6 7 etc) have the ability to push our buttons intentionally to see us frustrated but I also think these are children ( not all but IMHP most ) are ignored a great deal. Positive behavior is ignored but negative gets attention. I don't think that the phrase "testing limits or testing boundries" has to have negative conintation unless you take it personally. All of us must test our boundries to see if we can get beyond them. It's just that the kind of boundries for children is so much more and different. We control where there boundries are for their sake. I think it's just how we learn to 'be'.

unregistered posted 02-24-2001 05:16 PM
Oops. Didn't mean to say that all children who test are ignored. I meant that children who constantly test. Being ignored will do that but I think it comes down to a child feeling valued themselves. We see it as respect but I think they 'feel' value better than they understand respect. Hmmm. Am I making any sense? Ok it sounds simple in my head. Ok ok that was a quote for the refridgerator. Calling it good

unregistered posted 02-24-2001 05:21 PM
Darn it!! " is so much different" not great grammer. No sleep last night people

Ms. Mom
Moderator posted 02-24-2001 05:53 PM
Mom x3 - After a day like today I do understand! I had a lot going on this week and the house was a mess. I would no sooner get one room clean when another had an entire box of packing popcorn EVERYWHERE! My two (age 6 and 3) were at each other and couldn't agree on anything.
Look back on my second sentence - I had a lot going on. This seems to be the time my buttons are pushed the most. You have a great deal going on with moving and packing. It sounds like your kids are picking up on your fears and frustration. I'm sure they have some of their own. Maybe it is a test - to see if we can figure out what's going on and help them resolve it.

you may need to take a moment out for yourself. Make some herbal tea and take a lavendar bath. Take some deep breaths, then go back and start new.

I'm off to take my own advice - what a day!

~~Much Gentleness

mom at home
Member posted 02-24-2001 07:52 PM
I think in part children "test their limits" to feel safe. A child whose parents have limits and enforce limits feel safer, I think.
I have a friend who when she was a teen would stay out later and later every night to see when her parents would notice. They never did and she always felt that if they cared about her and what she did, they would enforce limits on how late she could stay out. Granted, she wasn't a young child, but I think that kids with limits are happier and more secure and maybe they test to see how much we care -just one thought on the matter.

My 5 yr old definitely tests, but I think it is age appropriate so I don't think of it as negative. Just part of their development and, as Kelts said, kids who get more positive attention probably have less need to engage in testing behavior.

Member posted 02-25-2001 06:39 AM
I like the term "exploring their boudaries". There are days when I feel like I am being tested but that is a bit different from them intending to "test" me. I say that because I usually feel it most when I am very tired (as opposed to only mildly so ) or overwhelmed with things to do. Their annoying stuff always disappears if I give them something interesting and challenging to do so I think sometimes it is related to boredom. The other day I was visiting a friend who also has a 15 month old. Her little boy bonked a stool on my daughter's head (OUCH!!) He was very startled by her tears and his Mommy's response. And do you know what? He picked up the stool and did it again, looking very interested in the whole chain of response. We were ready the third time (much to my baby's relief) and he walked away looking very thoughtful. My MIL would say that he was "testing" or "bad" but I say he was trying to understand it all. I just wish he had used something other than my sweet baby's head as learning material!

Linda in Canada
Member posted 02-25-2001 08:05 AM
I don't like the word "test." It is just too negative.
I don't like the word "boundaries" but I don't know why. Some of what I do as a parent could easily be called "setting boundaries", but I've heard people use the words when they mean something very different from what I do, so they have bad connotations for me.

My kids have a lot more freedom than most kids their ages -- they have enough freedom to make big messes (which they then have to help clean up) and to hurt themselve (little boo boos that need bandaids). Some parents seem to be so busy setting boundaries that the kid can never learn anything. How are children supposed to develop judgement if they can never make mistakes? If all learning experiences are made into discipline issues, the child will of course spend a lot of time pressing against the "boundaries" trying to find out what real reason is behind the "boundary."

Member posted 02-25-2001 08:40 AM
I whole heartly believe they do test us. To know there boundiers and to learn what is acceptable behavior.
I was reading a post below ****I have a friend who when she was a teen would stay out later and later every night to see when her parents would notice. They never did and she always felt that if they cared about her and what she did, they would enforce limits on how late she could stay out. Granted, she wasn't a young child, but I think that kids with limits are happier and more secure and maybe they test to see how much we care -just one thought on the matter.****

This is so true!!!!!!!! That statement brought back many sad feelings for me. Growing up I did a lot of drugs. My mom never once confronted me, her attitude is all kids do it (she admits know that she knew I was drinking and smoking dope). I had a teacher that did. I thank that teacher to this day for caring enough to confront me. I remeber being in the druggy groups and the attitude was "My parents don't care". Yet, the kids that did not stay for long (true expermental, nieve teen use) had parents that did challange them, did set boundries, et. Once a kid saying "NO WAY!! My parents would be mad", I felt all on my own and out of control--drugs controlled the pain of being lonely. I thought at least his parents cared enough to be involved.

Maybe it is just the context of the word like toliet training. Toliet training sounds like something you do to your child not your child does for herself. But we most all use it in casual conversation. Many words can bring up "bad/negitive" imagies in our minds even when they are not being used that way. I know people that won't read nursery rhymes with pussy because they can not get past the "negitive/sexual" conientations, even though when these were writen (and still is in most country) pussy means cat/kitten.

Mom x 3
Member posted 02-25-2001 11:43 AM
Thank you for your imput! I guess I really needed a reality check. Before the twins came I was able to keep up with where my ds was developmentally (okay, I wasn't able to keep up completely but atleast I wasn't too far behind ). Now he is moving in a direction that is unfamiliar to me.
Linda in canada mentioned in another post that moving is scary. I guess that is where I am right now. I'm not sure what I want but I do want to be consistent with my kids! Thank you so much for your imput, you are helping so much! Blessings, Jill

P.S. Does anyone know any good developmental books for six year olds? Does Dr. Sears cover different ages in his discipline books? Thanks!

mom at home
Member posted 02-25-2001 02:40 PM
Mom x 3,
My oldest dd is 5.5 and I can relate to having gotten to an age where I feel unclear about how to deal with certain things. Toddlerhood seemed easier for me, more straightforward (or maybe I just had it more figured out since I've been there for a number of years), but sometimes I feel like I'm stumped with my 5 yr old, she is so mature that sometimes I feel uncertain. I feel like I'm entering a new phase of parenting and my instincts haven't developed for this phase yet.

Linda in Canada
Member posted 02-25-2001 03:02 PM
I think there is a big difference between "confronting" and letting a teenager know that you care by really talking and really listening. Real conversations, though are as different from "drawing boundaries" and "testing" as not saying anything.
I think when we are stressed out our kids pick up on it. I think they misbehave (i.e. push our buttons) at those times because they need us to stand firm and make them feel safe. It isn't our drawing boundaries in particular that makes them feel safe, it is seeing us being sure of ourselves that makes them feel safe. When they see us being confident adults (not all stressed out and freaking out) then they don't need to manipulate us into acting like we know what we are doing. I think our kids really need us to be confident adults, though I don't think they need us to boss them around much.

My kids were flaky around the time of our move last year, too. You son is most likely very stressed out and doesn't have good ways to express those feelings.

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