Body Ownership, Boundaries, and Rebellion

two set of feet on opposite sides of a yellow line

My kids are always finding new and creative ways of pushing boundaries and demonstrating just how smart, clever, and rebellious they are.

Z's latest clever, preschool, how-on-earth-did-you-learn-that stalling tactic: "But Mommy, I control what happens to my body.  And I don't want to go."


Can we just pause here and think about...

  1. How smart and grown up this is.
  2. How clever.
  3. How subversive.


First of all, I am glad that my kids have somehow already picked up this notion of body ownership.

Yes, your body belongs to you and only you and you get to control what happens to it.

Except when I say that you need to brush your teeth.  

Or get dressed to go outside.  

Or leave the house and get some fresh air and exercise instead of staying instead and throwing tantrums because you can't play endless hours of videos games.

E and Z playing in the park

Evidently, someone has taught my child that he is in charge of his own body.  No one gets to touch him when he doesn't want to be touched, or hurt him, or force him to do things.

Amazing.  I bet it was daycare.

And he's super smart to have already absorbed this information.

And he's even smarter to know be using it against me.

This was how this particular day was going....

First of all, I made the mistake of letting my kids play video games in the morning.

They were those video games that are supposed to teach your kids something: how to trace, how to say the alphabet, how to count...

But video games none the less.

And boy!  Are those things addictive

When you try to limit the time they have, and then take the thing away, they go totally preschool bananas.

So we had lots of temper tantrums that day.

Lesson learned the hard way: no video games before lunch.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.

So we got to lunch time and I made them put them away.  

They cried.  

They threw themselves on the floor.  

They told me how unfair life was.

I know, kids.  I know.  We can't play video games all day long and eat nothing but chocolate chip cookies.  Life is cruel.

But I got them to the lunch table.  Reluctantly.

Then after lunch, no surprise, they want to play video games again.

No way.

"Sorry sweetie," I say, in my best 'mom cares about you and empathizes with how hard this is' voice.  "We can't play video games all day."

Instant tears.  And he throws himself on the floor.  

"It's not FAIR!  You ruined all my fun, Mommy."

Of course I did.

Me: "It's time to go out and play.  We're going to get some fresh air and exercise."

Z: "I don't WANT TO."

Me: "If you don't get fresh air and exercise, you won't grow big and strong."  Still in my 'mommy loves you' voice.

Z: Throws himself on the floor and cries.

So I proceed to get the kid bag packed.  (We're potty training, so we bring a dozen pairs of underwear and pants everywhere we go.)  And I make sure we have snacks.  I get my sunglasses and kid hats.

"Okay.  It's time to go."

More tantrums.

(Thankfully, the second twin is totally on board with the 'getting out of the house' plan.)

Z: "Nooooooo....."

Me: "Yes.  We're going.  Get your shoes on."  

Z: "I won't go.  Mommy, I control what happens to my body and I don't want to go."


Did my kid just use body ownership and personal boundaries to subvert my attempts at getting him out of the stinking house?

E and Z at a picnic table

Yes.  Yes, he did.

Well played, Z.  Well played.

The moral of the story: We did in fact get out of the house.  That conversation went something like, "Yes, you do control what happens to your body, but we are going out to play.  Get your shoes on."

And I am amazed at the creative ways that this kid has come up with to get his way.

Kid logic: I control what happens to my body.  My body is not going out that door.

Mommy logic: Get your shoes on.  We're leaving now.

The next challenge: teaching my 4 year old how to discern between actual danger and the need for boundaries, and leaving the house to get some much needed vitamin D and exercise.

No big deal, right?

4 Comment

  1. Diane Vendetti says: Reply

    the terrible twos turns to the furious fours to soon turn to the smartalec sixes who know it all-just wait for it. at least there is always dig and dump!

    1. Indeed! There’s a digger parked outside our house right now and the kids are kind of super excited. 🙂

  2. Eliane says: Reply

    I just loved your post! It made me laugh…
    It’s amazing how smart kids are. They pick things up really quick and then start using them in very creative ways! I love that!
    I have 3 kids. They’re already grown-ups now but I can definitely remember a few similar situations.
    Although I have to say I wasn’t quite as patient as you seem to be. Congrats! That’s the way to be.
    Since your kids are still 4 years old I’m sure you will have a lot of other stories to tell about setting boundaries and testing limits.
    I can’t wait to read all about them! 🙂
    Wish you all the best.

    1. Rebecca says: Reply

      Haha.  It’s CRAZY how creative kids can be with excuses!  (And bargaining.  Mine like to bargain.)  🙂

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