Before you had kids there's a good chance that you imagined having idyllic days with your yet-to-be child. I know I did. I thought of all the things I would show him and teach him. I thought about the things we would do together, his little hand in mine as we walked, or skipped, along. I dreamed about him growing up, too. He would be happy, responsible, helpful, and liked by everyone. He would be a compliant child.
The compliant child is easy to parent. Of course they are not perfect, but they try very hard to make you happy. They are usually obedient and rarely give you any difficulty. In fact, they may be so helpful that they become your go-to kid when you need something taken care of. The compliant child is dependable and reliable.
So if the compliant child is so easy why should you be concerned about him?
The people pleaser in your compliant child may hold him back from following his own desires and passions because he is used to bending his will to make everyone else happy. Every child needs a chance to spread his wings, to figure out what he's talented at, and discover what he enjoys doing. If he doesn't get this chance he may flounder through adulthood without goals of his own.
In school he can easily get overlooked even when he does a good job, just because he doesn't make waves. Because he is used to following your instructions he may not initiate actions that promote him or his work. This could limit his opportunities in college or on the job.
Because your compliant child is so good at following the rules he may start to compare himself to siblings and classmates who are not as compliant. He may end up feeling like he gets the short end of the stick, especially if there's another child in the family or class who receives lots of attention because of behavioral issues. The same would be true if he loses your attention to a sibling with health issues.
Although it makes parenting so much easier when you have a child that does everything you tell him to do the way you tell him to do it, this isn't necessarily the best preparation for your child. When he's on his own you won't want him turning to someone else to make his decisions for him. As an adult he will need to be able to make wise decisions. Decision making skills should be learned when he is still under your care while the decisions are not life-altering.
So what can you do? Here are some tips:
- Encourage your child to try out various activities to find some that he really enjoys. Keep in mind that he may limit his choices based on his sense of convenience to the family, so try to keep cost and time restrictions out of the picture as much as possible.
- When he does misbehave treat him justly. Remember that he is just a kid and sometimes kids will do foolish things. At the same time don't overlook misbehavior just because he usually behaves. He needs to know you care how he acts.
- Give him plenty of opportunities to make his own decisions. If you are used to making all the decisions start turning over small ones and build up to more important ones as he matures and his decision making skills improve. Don't be surprised or take over if he stumbles at first. For example, if he goes to school with mismatched clothing, don't worry. You will both survive and he will learn from the experience.
- Teach him to stick up for himself and to toot his own horn properly. This will prevent him from being taken advantage of and keep resentment from building up.
- Do a relationship check periodically to be sure that you're not taking him for granted. How are his grades? What's going on at school? Who are his current friends? How is he feeling about life? Don't assume you know the answers to these questions; they are too important.
- Spend one-on-one time with him. He needs to know he matters to you. The more time you can spend with him, the better it will be, but even a small amount of time can be valuable if it's not time shared with others. Have some fun together. The sense of responsibility that the compliant child feels can weigh heavily on his heart and mind.
- Pray for him. God has a plan for him. Pray that he will know God's love, and yours, and that he will discover God's plan for his life.
The compliant child has all the potential needed to be a successful, fulfilled adult. Building a strong relationship with him and making sure that he gets to be a kid will get him off to a good start. Because he already has the tendency to be diligent, all it will take is encouragement from you to help him follow the path where his passions and talents are.
From my parent's heart to yours,