Most parents wouldn’t want their children to pick flowers growing in someone else’s garden and yet wild flowers are perfectly fine. Young children probably do not yet understand the difference… a flower is a flower, right? And yet if your child went to play next door and picked all the daffodils in the garden, you’d feel a little awkward talking to your neighbour. You might feel the need to apologize or explain.
So as the parent you decide to tell your child, please don’t pick the flowers. On the other hand, some parents might decide picking flowers is just fine. Other people will understand since your child is only 3 years old. In my humble opinion, it really doesn’t matter what a Mom or Dad decides.
What does matter is when this happens. Mom or Dad says quite clearly, “Oh Janie, please don’t pick the flowers.” And then little Janie promptly picks a flower. Mom and Dad just look at each other and sigh and go on with their business. This is where the problem lies. I don’t have a problem with little Janie. It’s Mom and Dad! Do you want your words to mean something? Do you expect your child to listen to you? Is your integrity important? If the answers to these questions are yes, then a little sigh in response will not do. There will have to be some follow through so that your words have some weight to them. If there is no follow through your child learns very quickly that anything goes and it really doesn’t matter what Mom and Dad say.
Perhaps Mom and Dad are at a loss. They’re not sure what to do in this situation. It’s simple. Do something to show that you mean what you say. Do something to follow through. Even if it is as simple as this. “Remember, I asked you to please not pick the flowers. We cannot put it back so now I will need to hold the flower because you forgot to listen to my words.” There may be tears, there may be a logical argument, there may be hitting or screaming but whatever response you get from your child you need to stick to your words. Parents, this is a simple thing but you absolutely must do this. Your child can handle disappointment. Your child can handle limitations. It is your job to follow through. Please do it.
And finally, parents, if you cannot follow through with your words then you will need to remain silent until you are prepared to do so. That is better than sacrificing your integrity.