Thursday, April 29, 2010


Between age three and four, J had gone through a period of defiant behavior. She simply did not want to follow instructions and would do her best to annoy me. It was a little game of testing boundaries to see where the yield point lay.
I started off by ignoring her hoping that things would resolve themselves that way. Instead she upped the ante some to ensure that she had my attention. I changed strategy at that point and decided to talk through it (as difficult as that was given her age at the time) - being mad at her was just making things worse. So using a variety of ways ranging between halfway sensible and downright idiotic, I was able to rein J in - for the time. I did not want to push too hard fearing that she may clam up completely or would have no spirit left.
Defiance is back again these days. It will be over small things. I view it as her way to assert her identity as different from mine and one she wants to define independent of my guidance - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Whatever methods worked four years ago, do not any more.
One morning while walking her to the bus stop, I asked J if it was tempting to annoy me and do things I would not approve of just because. "For no real reason". She grudgingly admitted that was true. Sometimes she was just annoyed about it having to be my way and not hers even when she knew mine was the better way. I told her it may be a lot more satisfying and interesting for her, if she chose her battles well - not just with me but with anyone she intended to defy. Some things are too trivial to do war over - it is wasted time and energy for the most part. If she was smart, she'd not concern herself with those but really stand up for what she believed in when it actually mattered.
I explained to J that there is a difference between being mulish and having determination. Defiance just for the sake of it was more former and less later. In the long run, it made the person hard to like and get along with. Besides, they may have made some really poor choices because they were not using their brains and defying everything instinctively. Determination on the other hand is what it takes for a person to beat the odds in their life and come out successful - it is a quality worth cultivating. 

By when I had reached this point, the school bus had come. We did not continue this conversation in days that followed. From what I know of J, sowing the germs of an idea in her head is often the best way to get her to think about it - and hopefully react to it. She will tune off quickly if I belabor it.
This is merely round two and she is all of eight years old. Makes me wonder about what is yet to come and if I will know how to deal with the bigger challenges that lie ahead.


Ananth Majumdar said...

Liked this post and the way you tackled it is very very interesting. BTW.. I have read a lot of posts but never commented. I come to your blog daily to read. Keep writing..

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