Brush your teeth.
Lights out at 9.
Clean your room.
Be kind to others.
Respect your elders.
No, you may not have ice cream at 10 p.m.
Don’t hit your sister.
Eat your veggies.
Don’t touch mom’s makeup.
Finish your homework.
Rules we teach our children.
As parents, it is our job to teach our children how to take care of themselves, get along with others, behave properly in social settings, and be kind in general.
But sometimes we go so far down the road of “thou shalts” that we create too many boundaries.
Boundaries that leave little room for excitement and creativity.
Where’s all the fun?
What happens when we do something we’re not supposed to do?
It creates a feeling of anxiety within us.
In an article for Psychology Today, Leon Seltzer – a clinical psychologist and the author of Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy – explains, “Whenever you do something out of your comfort zone, you’re going to feel anxiety. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just that it’s counter to your programming.”
In the same article, Michele Root-Bernstein, co-author of Sparks of Genius, further explains that the more emotions you can inject into a situation, the more memorable it will be.
So feeling anxiety…..can be a good thing?
When we let our kids do something they’re not allowed to do, it gives them a small bit of anxiety.
If your kids feel a little bit of that anxiety that comes from doing something “they’re not supposed to do,” it will supercharge their memory.
If you choose something – like staying up late and going to get ice cream at 10 p.m., assuming that’s against your rules – that nobody will really notice or care about but is totally taboo to your children, then you found the exact right thing. 🙂
It’s a simple way to create a lasting, fun memory of you in your children’s minds.
Go to bed that late?! Get to eat ice cream after bedtime?! That’s two rules broken! *gasp!*
Two rules that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things – it’s not like you told them to go kick a grandma – but they will remember forever because it’s something a little bit bad that they’re not usually allowed to do.
Your kids will get an immediate adrenaline rush, and they will be more likely to remember this special time with you.
And how about getting to put on mom’s makeup and use her hair rollers? What a special treat for a little girl!
You get the idea. 🙂 An added bonus? You’ll get a chance to teach them that life doesn’t have to be so serious. That it’s ok to let go sometimes. That’s possibily the greatest lesson in all of this, not simply that it’s a lasting memory. But one that really matters and builds a well rounded person.
Finding the Right “Rules” to Break
The only tough part is toeing the line between unacceptable for kids, but actually acceptable behavior and not letting them think they can do this any time they want (or you may potentially have a problem on your hands). The key here is to find just the right “rule(s)” to break and to use this idea sparingly. If you can do that, you’re good to go!
What is something you don’t normally let your kids do, say, or act on that you could let them do just once as a special family event? Any particular place you can go? Is there a rule reinforced so consistently that breaking it would stand out like nothing else?
I’d love to hear your ideas! Maybe I’ll use one for myself. 🙂
Resources: The Wholesome Guide to Misbehaving ~ Psychology Today