The Peppa Effect

My sweet M will do anything for Peppa Pig.  I mean anything.  It is a total game changer for us, and it is one of the best things about her little 3 year old world.  There is typically a certain amount she is allowed to watch, but every now and then Mommy can be persuaded for a bit more.

This happened a few days ago when M asked if she could “watch a Peppa.” She had already spent time watching, and I felt reluctant to agree to more.  She looked up at me with her sparkling green eyes and said, “May I please watch another Peppa, Mommy? It will be alright, Mommy.  I looooooove to watch Peppa, Mommy, and I would like to watch just a little bit more.”

Go ahead and tell me how you could say no to that?!  Exactly.

As hard as it was, however, I did say no. I looked into those expectant eyes, and despite the tug on my heart, the voice in my head was louder.  “Be the parent,” I heard.  M needed me to be the parent more than she needed to watch Peppa even though she would be the first to disagree.  I had to remind myself that as cute and as earnest as she was that these limits actually help her feel secure.  Knowing that I am in charge makes her feel safe. She can find comfort in the fact that I will regulate her external environment, so that she can eventually regulate her internal one.  When children sense uncertainty in the people they trust the most, i.e. their parents, they can act out in response to those feelings. It’s our job to rise up and teach them how to, how much, how often, how late, how long, and how come.  The outcome is a child who trusts that her needs will be met, especially those she is not even aware of.

It has been empowering to me as a parent to think of these limits as little gifts that I can give my children.  I’m not the bad guy, but rather I am a mother who loves my children enough to say no.  I think about my days teaching in the classroom and what a child who only heard “yes,” looked, sounded, and acted like.  It wasn’t pretty.  At all.  It’s ok to teach our children to respect limits and authority, and that the world won’t come crashing down when things don’t go their way.  Those lessons build resilience, and that’s a beautiful thing to see in a child.

Besides, there is usually another Peppa on the horizon anyway.

Find the joy-