What Children And Velociraptors Have in Common
If you read the title of this post, and you’re a fan of Jurassic Park, you’re probably having a vision of one child locking eyes with you to get your attention while another ambushes you from the side. But “they both hunt in packs” is not the top answer on the board.
In the original Jurassic Park movie, there’s a scene where the guests are getting their first tour of the island and come to the velociraptor cage. Because these dinosaurs are both deadly and agile (not the comparison we’re alluding to when it comes to our children, although it could be) the raptors have to be contained behind an electrified fence. But the tour guide tells Dr. Grant and company that the raptors search the fence testing for weak spots. They’re testing, experimenting, looking for vulnerabilities.
Our kids do the same thing. They are the raptors, we (the parents) are the electrified fence. We try to keep our kids safe by creating certain rules and restrictions and they constantly try to find the weak spots. It’s true at almost any age.
As a toddler, my son tests the boundaries all the time. His main mode of attack: alligator tears. Children know that they get attention when they cry. We are there to console them and so, when the tears are genuine, we give them what they want or need to make them feel better. Once they learn this, they try to use tears to manipulate us to get what they want.
Fortunately, my son is not a great actor. He’s made me laugh and smile as he’s buried his face in the couch or a pillow “crying” and “sobbing” only to stop a second or two later to sneak a quick peak at me to see how I’m reacting. Am I going to get that cookie he’s crying for? Am I going to follow through with enforcement for bed time? He’s testing the fence and if he finds a chink in the armor he’ll keep picking at it until he breaks through to the other side.
If tears don’t work the next time he’ll try screams, or ply me with other necessities he must accomplish before bed, or tell me what I must accomplish before he closes his eyes. Maybe he wants to try to negotiate with mommy instead of daddy. That’s him testing different spots in the fence.
If you have older kids you’ve probably seen the same thing as they asked for another toy in the toy store, negotiated a later curfew, or tried to get the keys to the car. Maybe you still remember how you used to try to find the weak spots when you were in their shoes. It doesn’t stop, like the raptors, it’s in their nature. So, make sure you have a secure fence. Otherwise look out for those talons and attacks from the side.