Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

As a new mom, I really have no idea what I’m doing. I do a lot of second-guessing and “let’s see how this goes”, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I’ve found that I struggle the most with figuring out the boundaries, even at Hallie’s young age of one and some months. We go the rounds with hitting and biting, which is lovely, as well as her impressive vocal skills. I reinforce the no-hitting rule every time, and whether I let her run around screaming depends on the moment. However, the boundary that scares me the most is her fierce desire to be independent.

My degrees in psychology tell me all about how normal it is for Hallie to want to feed herself, dress herself, and essentially have everything done the way she wants it. This does nothing to heed my fears. She’s already opening doors and demanding to go outside. She wants to touch every dog she sees, and depending on her mood, wavers on whether strangers are actually dangerous. Hallie gives me so many heart-attacks. So. Many.

Rather than restrict Hallie’s wild desires, I do my best to establish safe boundaries instead. She does not always want to hold my hand, and I make it clear when it is acceptable for her to wander and when it’s not. Hallie knows that if we go on walks beyond the yard, that hand-holding is required. Now, once a favorite activity, she no longer wants to go for walks. Instead, we spend 30 minutes walking back and forth on the sidewalk outside our home, side by side but definitely not holding hands. Hallie already knows that when I call, she is to stop and turn in the direction I’m pointing. Any deviation from the safety of our sidewalk and she is plopped straight into our yard.

I’ve also started to redirect hitting. We can bang on the sofa, on the floor, and even on hands when I’ve extended them for a high-five. But it is never acceptable to hit someone, and after only a few warnings she is in time-out. Her get-out-of-jail card is a sorry, either verbal or in the form of a hug. These are boundaries that are important, out of respect for both herself and others.

So, I tell her every time. We ask to pet the dog. We ask to hug, or preferably high-five, the stranger’s child. We don’t take off running because we feel like it, or because watching mommy chase is funny. Hallie has no fear and embraces her curiosity with a vengeance. My dad tells me this is karma, and I believe it.

I don’t want to douse her flame, but it’s a constant battle in myself regarding how to keep her safe and still let her be independent. I do let her push certain boundaries, because I want her to know what she is capable of. I want Hallie to know that she can push the envelope, and if she falls, I’ll be there to catch her or help her up. Children are not too young to learn. It is never too early to start teaching boundaries, because this is how we raise both safe and successful kids.