What makes a child disobey their parent?

Why would a child disobey her Father?

She should have stopped when her Father said ‘Stop’.  And yet, she didn’t. She kept walking.

What did he do, he pulled very hard on her right ear.  She started crying.

I watched this scene unfold this afternoon whilst walking back from the supermarket.

The consequences for her

Here is a little girl, I would suggest around 4 or 5 years old, with her older sister and her Dad.

They walked out to cross the road, from behind a parked car.

The little girl was walking slightly ahead of her Father and Sister.

He said ‘Stop’.  She took several steps forward.

I then watched him grab her ear, very hard, and pull it.  She cried out in pain.

child disobey

What would have a parent react this way?

On the remainder of my walk home I pondered what was going through the Fathers mind in that moment.

He might have been scared that she would be hit by on coming traffic.  Okay, that’s reasonable AND was his reaction justified?

What was his fear?  His fear could be that she would be killed or at least seriously injured.

I know what the pain of losing a child is like. At times it seems unbearable.

And yet, in that moment his own fear had him react in a way that was unnecessary.

His fear was not the child’s

She thought nothing of stepping out when her Father said stop.  Maybe it was simply that she didn’t understand WHY he said stop.

Maybe there was a way to explain to her why he said stop so that she understood for the future.

Who knows what this Fathers own childhood upbringing was like.

My guess is that he had been treated this exact same way by his Mother when she said stop or don’t and he didn’t respond favorably.

You don’t need to react the same as your parents did to you

These are the very situations where it is valuable to notice your own reaction, then consider what is really going on for you.

Reacting the way your Mother or Father reacted to you is of no value to you or your child.

You are simply following, possibly unconsciously, a patterned way of responding.

What fear do you notice erupts in your mind in that moment?

How might you approach this differently if you realize that you no longer need to do the same as your Mother or Father did?

What would have the child disobey her Father?

She appeared to be in a world of her own in that moment.

I don’t know where they had come from.  My guess it may have been Target.

Who knows what she had seen or done in the lead up to them crossing that road in that moment.

I can imagine that if she was thinking about what was in Target, the clothes and toys, and candies etc she won’t have been focusing on what her Dad said.

He hadn’t made sure he had her attention BEFORE he said stop.  I can be sure of that.

How this may impact the child

These sorts of simple occurrences have a lasting impact on a child.

This sort of incident creates what I call ‘trauma’ in the child.

We know as adults that these small situations where we were punished or hurt for a reason that we don’t fully understand, have lingered with us.

What beliefs will this little girl now have created in her own mind, about her Father?

  • He hurt me

She has her story about that because of the pain that she felt when he pulled so hard on her ear.

  • He doesn’t love me

This may be what she thinks of as the reason for him hurting her.

  • He told me off

Which was true and yet she didn’t want that to happen in that moment.

  • He yelled at me

Yes, he did. Again she may think that he shouldn’t have because she wanted him to treat her differently.

All simple statements that will impact how she engages with him in the future.

What a different scenario this would have been had the Father stopped and held her hand.

Knelt down to her level and showed her why he had asked her to stop; explained about the cars and the ‘danger’.

To find out more about letting go of your own parenting habits check out our ‘Un-Parenting Program’.




About Karen Cherrett

Karen has trained as a Certified Facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie and is also a Holistic Counselor. She wants to be of service to you to improve your love of life and all its experiences. Karen supports individuals, businesses and practitioners.

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