An Avoidable Crisis: The Focus on Compliance (Part 1)

Why are we obsessed with compliance and behaviors?

Why do we label kids lazy, unmotivated, a behavioral problem, and as being disrespectful or rude?

Why do we think so poorly of so many kids?

Children learn through observation and experiences. What do these labels tell us about “these” kids?

These labels tell us that the adults labeling them do not understand the latest science in brain development and neuroscience and continue to use an old idea that kids must obey, comply, “do as I say,” and “because I said so” mentality.

We hear from so many parents, caregivers, and teachers how “out of control” so many kids they work with are. They describe them as rude, disrespectful, disruptive, always touching things, and one of my favorites, can’t sit still. But what makes “these kids” so terrible?

This idea starts with very young kids, toddlers, and even babies. Parents compare a good toddler to a bad toddler based on “behaviors.” A parent receives praise because their baby “is so good and sleeps well at night.” In preschool, a child might receive praise and acceptance from the teachers for being “well behaved” and a “good listener and a rule follower.” All parents/caregivers have heard comments like this, whether it was directed at your child or being said about another child.

But what is a good baby? What makes a good toddler? Why are preschoolers assessed by the idea that “they listen to directions and do what they are told”?

Is this what we want for our kids? Do we want kids who don’t complain, don’t voice an opinion, and are compliant no matter what? They sit and watch the world around them? Do we really want our kids to be passive bystanders in their own life story?

As a society, we have come to a crossroads, determining kids that are worthy and which kids are disposable. Unfortunately, what seems to be the crucial factor in a child’s path is compliance or noncompliance without ever asking any questions or having any curiosity about the child.

The “An Avoidable Crisis” Series


  • Jennifer Abbanat

    Jennifer is a mom to 3 ND kids, wife, Expressive Arts Educator, IEP advocate, & a Safe and Sound Protocol Listening System Provider. She uses neuro-affirming, trauma-informed, & brain aligned approaches to empower families to make the most informed decisions that support their child's unique needs. Her journey is one that started with lived experiences first, and through necessity to support her kids, especially her son, Jennifer has gone on to further educate herself through 100s of hours of professional development in areas of trauma, special education, PolyVagal Theory, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Expressive Arts Education training, and Dr. Perry’s Neurosequential model that helped her understand how it was important to be a working partner with her kids and focus on her own brain state of regulation first.

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