In « Il me cherche ! » (“He’s provoking me!”), it is said “Kids hate limits, they love rules.”
(we had already noticed that during our reading of « J’ai tout essayé! » (“I tried everything!”)

What’s the difference?
Limits set what’s forbidden, whereas rules, like those of a game, aim to allow.

Why privilege rules?
For two reasons: one, because formulating in terms of prohibitions won’t be as efficient, and second because if the child has to suffer prohibitions when he is in position of inferiority, chances are he will use the same methods of prohibiting things, when he is in position of superiority.
We are in a way teaching him how to use the power of position onto others in an abusive way!
Thus, and I follow here the author’s thought, he’ll show less respect for others in relationships with his friends, his siblings… and you’ll see more conflicts!

Last week, we went to the community pool of a friend’s building.
Another family was there, and the little boy had borrowed our tricycle.
He was happy, and rode and rode, until he decided it was fun to ride right around the pool. Not only the idea of rolling around the pool is problematic, but additionally, it’s circled with slippery tiles.
The mom tries to tell him: “Don’t go there!”, but the boy doesn’t listen.
I get close, get to his height, and tell him: “Look, with that tricycle, you can go anywhere where it isn’t slippery, like there (showing a spot a little further from the pool)”.

Without saying anything, he rolls away on a place without slippery tiles.

Do you remember the chapter about the roles that we were locking the children in, sometimes without realizing? The labels that they could not get rid of?

Briefly, if we consider that a child is lazy for example, and we act towards him taking this into account, well then chances are we won’t be disappointed : he will act lazy. If only to correspond to what we are expecting.
So, the book suggests, to unlock the child form his role, to treat him ad if he was already out of it. 

This summer, I decide to try that out.
Our son Leon (4 and half years old) is considered as a whiny, a fussy child. Let’s just say he is very sensible…
Instead of reacting on that – « I am fed up with you crying for everything ! » – (Well… I won’t lie and say that it never happens to me to say things like that as well…), I decided to focus more on another side of his character : his enthusiasm, and the joy he expresses when he is happy ! So in these moments I began calling him « pretty smile ».
« Hello pretty smile! You seem happy! »
« What a pleasure to see this pretty smile! »
It is amazing how fast we saw the effect of that : reinforcing this happy side, we reinforced his happiness. So, just like his father before him, he began feeling « just happy about being happy » ! He clearly realized that we also saw him like a happy child, and I know it helped him to feel better.

Sometimes, he would just call me, while he was playing, so I would watch him, and tell me « pretty smile… », before breaking into one of these magnificent smiles of him…

This evening, we have one of Léon’s friend home. (Léon is 4 and a half). Léon is very happy about playing with her, but she is not really willing to be with him… Truth to be told: he wants to build an aerial tram, and she doesn’t.
Léon’s blocked: he’s crying, crying, crying.
I decide to follow the guide.
Phase 0: I sit next to him, and try to surround him with my love, he pushes me away.
Phase 1: I stay in front of him, with a tender look, telling him I am here for when he want to talk. In order to not let his crying get to me, I imagine a cup in front of me where his tears can go without touching me, as suggested in « He’s provoking me! ».
Finally, he extends his arms, cuddles, then gets out and explains that he wanted to build an aerial tram with Pauline…
Phase 2: Listening and welcoming feelings
« Yes, I see you feel miserable, you really wanted to make the aerial tram and you really wanted to make it with Pauline. It is sad that she doesn’t want to make it with you, because you love to build things… »
Phase 3: the one I love: giving in fantasy
« It would be great to have a friend who loves building things like you do! So you could build lots of things together… »
Phase 4: the choice
« Let’s see, what’s most important to you ? To build the aerial tram, or to be with Pauline? » Answer: be with Pauline.
« Ok, let’s ask her what she wants to do. » Answer: to draw.
Phase 5: Looking for solutions (coming from me, but better than nothing!)
« I have several ideas of things you could do:
you could draw with her; or you could build your tram in the living room while she draws on your side; or you could ask her if she wants to draw on your tram… »
It is finally the 3rd solution that have been chosen, and they are both playing together!
I feel very happy with myself…


In “He’s provoking me!” (“Il me cherche!”), Isabelle Filliozat makes a remarque about our relationship with our children : Sometimes, we try to make them speak about themselves without really managing it.

“How did it go?” receives the answer “well”. It’s completely dull!

There are quite a few ways to open otherwise the conversation for better results, but what I’m interested in here, is the idea that we encourage our child better through explaining what we have ourselves lived through. We can take the initiative of creating the intimacy!

I noticed it first hand:
Last night, we went to a restaurant with our two older ones (14 and 9 years old), and Nicolas said with a large smile (and without having read this book) “Today, we finally sent a first version of the budget to the headquarters! ”
It didn’t mean anything to them, they didn’t know there was a budget to be sent, but they were happy to see their farther happy, and immediately followed up with their anecdotes from that day!

We recently discussed expressing feelings in front of the attachment figure.

I had a clear example of it yesterday.

Alice (9) had a dentist appointment. This dentist only lets children inside, letting parents outside.
So yesterday, the dentist took one of her milk teeth out to make room for the next one.. and I saw, through the gap in the door, tears that were going silently down her cheeks…
It broke my heart.
She didn’t say anything to the dentist, feared everything with no comment.
Once out, she cried in my arms. She finally was in the right place to express herself…


It’s unbelievable how well this method of validating feelings works with Léon (4 and a half years old) !

I had first learned it in How to talk so kids… then already applied it, and I still do.

Last week, he explains to me that he doesn’t like his summer camp in his school, because in the room that they are in, there aren’t any tables like in his usual classroom, and so they aren’t allowed to eat something on their way in. (Which was apparently his way of taking the time to get into the environment.)
I tell him: “You know what would be great? If there was a hole in the wall of your classroom, that way, you could slip through it to go it your snack on the tables that you like!”
Problem solved.

This morning, we get to school when I notice that we have forgotten the game that we were supposed to bring to share. No problem, Léon tells me that I can just go back home to get it and come back bring it to him. No, I’m not going to do that, it would take me too long… he cries.
I don’t give up: “You know what would be awesome, if our building was just in front of the school. That way, right now, I could just go back get it and bring it for you, and it wouldn’t be too long!” That made him laugh, because in front of the school, it’s a hospital!
No more problem.

I keep on being amazed by this simple trick!

It is rare for us to clearly express what we feel.
Sometimes, it’s to avoid hurting another’s feelings, sometimes, it’s a social norm.
The child looks at us and understands that we mustn’t.
We mustn’t want that this little brother who takes up so much time from mum disappears, we mustn’t want to hit a friend that takes our toys.
Yet, all these feelings are valid. We must of course, nevertheless, make the difference between the wish, and the realizatdion of that wish.
These feelings are valid just because they are, as was explained in Liberated parents, liberated children. (chapter 2: They feel what they feel)
In Understanding children’s emotions, Isabelle Filliozat comes back to this. To prevent the child from feeling, is to decrease his belief in himself, his self-esteem : he is wrong to feel what he feels, he must contain it, he is bad…
No, on the contrary, let’s explain to him that it is normal to feel: “You must be sad that he said that!”, we can even show him that we accept him with his feelings: “I understand that you are mad, I love you all the same.” (Isabelle Filliozat)
Just this morning, we were talking about it with Léon (4 years old). We are going through a period where his little brother (2 years old) won’t stop hitting him. I know it will pass, but meanwhile…Pfff, let’s just say I can’t wait for it to pass!
Anyways, I was talking with Léon, and commenting how anxious we were for Anatole to learn not to hit anymore, and he answered me with this phrase, so true : “I too, sometimes, want to hit him, but I don’t.” I’m just very happy to see that this difference is clear to him.
As for the expression of his feelings, sometimes he also says : “I want to throw Anatole into a volcano!” The message is clear…

Yesterday, I was cooking, while my two little ones (4 years old and 2 years old) were in the living room.

Not playing, fighting. One did not want the other to touch his car, but when the other went to another activity, the first one wanted to change too… It was the 3rd or 4th time that I stepped out to the kitchen to try to get things back on track, having even tried “It seems to me you two need a little time apart: Anatole, could you go play in your room?” (which lasted about 3 minutes) and I was feeling more and more angry, annoyed that I couldn’t have 10 minutes at peace to cook a little.

Then I hear yelling again, and find them fighting over a flexible book, on the verge of tearing it, each pulling one side!

Immediately, I intervene “Stop, stop, STOP, STOOOP!!!”

On that note, the two let go of the book and start crying, Léon plugging his ears with his hands!

I stop immediately, get down to their height and ask:
“Did I scare you?
— Yessss…”
I was sorry, but thinking back on it, I don’t know how I could have reacted differently…

« Each child is unique, it is not a matter of applying theatrical rules » explains Isabelle Filliozat speaking about letting the child sleep in the parents’ bed. (First chapter of Understanding children’s emotions)

It makes me think.

We often hear that we should not, that it is a very bad habit! And it is exactly what we thought when our kids were small.

It happened only very rarely. Sometimes, when they were tiny babies, they would finish their night in our bed, only because I was falling back asleep while he was feeding, but we never installed the kid in our bed. Why? Because we knew we were not supposed to, bt above all because I needed to sleep! I was exhausted, and the noises of the baby in the room would wake me up, even when he was only moving a bit. A good sleep was necessary for me, and if I were to have another kid today, I would still put him to sleep in another room.

However, I find this sentence interesting: it was the best solution for us, but not necessarily for other parents, other children…

« Does it feel like yes or no? »
It felt like no, but it won’t be the case for everyone.

Last weekend, I was discussing with friends who have hard time making their daughter go to sleep in the evening. She wants someone by her side. I was kidding with them: « Let her with me for a week, no problem, she will fall asleep at 8! »
Yes, for me it is important that the kids understand that after bed time it is parent time, but this is because I need it, simply.

Now I wonder: these parents might need it less than I ? This little girl might have reasons for needing to be reassured? (thinking about one of the questions raised later in the book: « what’s his story? ». In this case a recent change of countries, which means a world upside down!).

Maybe these parents succeed in finding a better balance than what I could do between what their daughter needs and what they are capable of giving her…

I need to ask them: « does it feel like yes or no? »

Back to the book post


In “J’ai tout essayé!” (« I tried everything! »), one of the little articles is titled “She does exactly what I just told her not to, while looking at me in the eyes!”

It’s happened to all of us and we can all admit it is annoying!!

But Isabelle Filliozat explains that the toddler has an intelligence principally “touch and feel”, that uses motion and physical sensations. Thus, doing what we just told him not to is a way for the child to commit to memory the thing he is not supposed to do, not to provoke us.

In the days that followed the read of that article, I got some concrete examples:

Anatole (2 years old) puts his toothbrush on the floor. I explain to him that he shouldn’t do it, and put it on the sink. He takes it, puts it on the floor, and says to me: “not here”, then puts it back on the sink and says “here”.

A couple days later, we are in a waiting room. He is seated on my lap to hug me, but his position doesn’t suit him. He changes it than explains: “Not like this – after getting back in the first position -, like this.

It’s so clear that I wonder how I could have overlooked this need before…