Is A Well-Behaved Toddler A Better Toddler?

OBEYThis morning, my 3.5-year-old son Shnook sat on the floor about three feet from a tissue box. I was about eight or nine feet away, nursing the 17-month-old Fuzzball on the couch.

Shnook: Mommy!! GET ME A TISSUE!

Me: There’s a nicer way to ask for a tissue. Also, can you see that I’m busy nursing your brother? You can get your own tissue and bring it over here.  Then, I’ll help you.


I’m not backing down, probably to my own detriment. My ear drums are especially pissed.

Me: Look how close you are to the tissue box!

You would think I would’ve learned not to argue by now.

Shnook: Let me tell you my idea. (I mentioned he’s 3 and a half, right?)

Me: What’s your idea?

Shnook: You pick up (Fuzzball) and go get me the tissue and bring it to me.

Me: Sorry, I’m not going to do that.

Shnook: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! (I wish I could indicate the decibel frequency of this scream.)

This went on for the entire time I was nursing. I’ll have all of you know… that I WON.

I WON!!!


Okay, that is totally not the point of this post.

This post is about obedience. Or disobedience.  Is it a bad thing if your children aren’t well-behaved (Sometimes, or all the time)?

Sure, we all wish our children would be well-behaved. Parenting would be a heck of a lot easier. That’s what it’s about, right? Adults are happier when kids sit quietly and do as they are told.  But if they do as they are told all the time, what kind of adults will they be?

“…doormats,” says Annalisa Barbieri from The Guardian.

While I don’t think it’s any kind of excuse not to teach your children respect for others,  I tend to agree with her. Challenging authority is probably a good thing.  Luckily, many others agree, too.

Barbieri quotes Alfie Kohn, whom I first came to love for his views on homework, but who also writes about this very subject in his book.

From Barbieri’s post:

Alfie Kohn, author of ‘Unconditional Parenting. Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason’ says, “When I ask parents, at the beginning of my lectures, what their long term goals are for the children, I hear words such as ethical, compassionate independent happy and so on. No-one ever says mindlessly compliant.”

A compliant child becomes a particular concern, Kohn admits, when they reach adolescence. “If they take their orders from other people, that may include people we may not approve of. To put it the other way around: kids who are subject to peer pressure at its worst are kids whose parents taught them to do what they’re told.”

So, what do you think?  Do you agree? Do you think letting your children challenge your authority is a good thing? Let me know in the comments!

Read more of my posts on Toddler Times.
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More by Naomi:
10 Healthy Foods My Toddler Will Eat
10 Ways My Toddler Avoids Bedtime
The Mom Club: We’re All Members

Photo via Flickr

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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