Have you noticed that children will occasionally disobey their parents for the express purpose of testing just how much they can get away with? 

This game called challenge the chief can be played with surprising skill even by very young children. I'm Dr. James Dobson with Focus on the Family.

One father told me recently of taking his 3-year old daughter to a basketball game. Naturally, the child was interested in everything in the gymnasium except the game. So the father permitted her to roam free. But he did walk her down to the stripe painted on the gym floor and he told her not to go past that line. No sooner had he returned to his seat when he scurried down the aisle straight toward the forbidden territory. She stopped at the border, then flashed a grin over her shoulder at her father as she deliberately placed one foot over the line. It was as if she were saying: "Whatcha gonna do about it?"

Virtually every parent the world over has been asked that same question at one time or another. Now when a parent ignores this kind of challenge, something changes in the parent/child relationship. For a particularly strong-willed boy or girl, that early test of parental leadership can grow into a full-blown case of rebellion during the troubled days of adolescence.

The ultimate paradox of childhood is that boys and girls want to be led by their parents, but insist that their mothers and fathers earn the right to lead them. This is Dr. James Dobson for Focus on the Family.

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