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Your Compliant Child: What They Need From You

Some children are born with a sweet and cooperative attitude. Other children have to learn to be cooperative over time. If your child is naturally compliant there are some pitfalls that could be overlooked as you parent these "easy" children. Read on for a few tips on raising up these cuties.

Some children are born compliant. These children are actually very glad that there are boundaries for community behavior. My first born, a beautiful daughter, was such a child. I once overheard her saying to one of my friends that breaking the rules made her feel tense. Let me say that now, thirty years later, nothing has changed about that. She remains a follower of the rules and has been very successful and happy and is a joy now just as she always has been. Compliant children generally accept the collective wisdom of the community that sets the rules. They seem to understand that rules have a purpose and a reason for being there, and they don't require much persuasion to follow them.

Parenting these adorable and cooperative little darlings is not as easy or straightforward as it appears on the surface. There may be some hidden agendas that are easily overlooked. Here are a few things to think about if your child, often a firstborn, has a compliant nature.

  1. Resist the temptation to place expectations on this child that you don’t place on your less compliant child just because you know that they will do what you ask.

It is easy to ask the same child over and over to take out the garbage when you know that that child will simply do it while the other child will argue or complain. Make sure that you ask everyone to do their share regardless of temperament.

2. It is important to think carefully and be cautious about what you ask of these children. As a rule, they will do what you ask them to do.

Here is an illustration of this:

Many years ago when my children were young and we were homeschooling, my daughter asked if she could go to public school. She knew many girls in public school from her church group and her scout troop and other places, and she wanted to go. I had deep reservations.

I was familiar with the school that she would have to attend and, in those days, we had no way to choose a different school. I wanted her to be happy and to enjoy her early adolescent years. I knew that she was very social and I was concerned that, in spite of my genuine efforts to keep her busy and active with friends, she was still lonely. But the middle school was truly sub standard. I wanted her to be well educated.

I honestly didn’t know what to do. My biggest concern in that moment was that I knew that, whatever I decided, she would comply with a good attitude. I knew that she wouldn’t push back. Whatever I said she would do. She wouldn’t tell me I was wrong or refuse to cooperate or pout or cry or anything. I had to figure out and do what was right for her. It required a great deal of thought and prayer.

In the end, I asked her to remain at home until she could enter the high school. It was a better school with more strong academic choices, and I had several friends on the faculty who respected and cared for her. She seemed somewhat satisfied with that and I continued to arrange for as many larger group activities as possible.

I still do not know if I did the right thing. But she has a master’s degree and some graduate certificates and she is highly successful in a satisfying career. Best of all, she is happy. She has a large circle of friends, a wonderful husband and a lovely family. It seems to have worked out. Whew.

The point is, be careful about your decisions in regards to a compliant child. They require as much vigilance as your child that will put the family cat in a pool float then push it out in the deep end to see how long it takes for it to escape. All while your back is turned for three minutes or less.

Do not misunderstand compliant children. They want to disregard rules that they don’t like but they don’t want to risk any consequences. They get strange ideas about how to entertain themselves if your back is turned for five minutes. They are simply more careful about how and when they push back against the heavy restraint of being "the good child". But there are times when they will do so; in their own way, that is. This brings me to my last point:

3. The non compliant child is not always the guilty party.

Be aware that it is easy to label one child the family scapegoat and the other child the golden one. This happens quite frequently in classrooms. Adult eyes miss a lot in the busyness of any given moment, and our instinct is to blame the most likely culprit. This is not healthy nor is it fair.

Raising children is a long term project with a lot of unknowns concerning the outcome. Give this task the imagination, time and energy it deserves because the world is waiting for you child!

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