My first response to this was “How could any parent dislike their child?”, followed by “Wouldn’t it be awful to dislike your child?” Peterson has a decent point with this rule here. How sad an existence would be if you did not like your own child. But fortunately, the outcome of this is fully within your control.
As someone who isn’t a parent but would like to become one, this chapter was fascinating and was more practical than it was intellectual. It is in this sense that I would recommend this chapter as one of the most enjoyable and interesting.
Peterson described two-year-olds act in the way that they do – kicking, screaming, violent beyond measure, stealing, impulsive and angry – to test the true limits of permissible behavior. Infants are seeking to discover the invisible boundary of what is okay, and what is not okay. Of course, it is the parent’s job to enforce that.
Most infants will at some point cry not because of sadness or fear, but cry because of anger. This anger-crying does not look or sound the same as sadness-or-fear-crying, and is mostly an act of dominance. The infant wants to see if he can dominate his parent, and this should be dealt with as such.
If a child has not been taught how to behave properly by the age of four, it will forever difficult for him or her to make friends. No pressure.
Children can be taught through reward (to positively-reinforce good behavior), and punishment (to negatively-reinforce bad behavior). Peterson has two maxims. Firstly to limit the rules, and secondly to use the least force necessary to enforce those rules.
The most important takeaway of this chapter is that parents have the capacity to resent and dislike their children. A clear example is a pair of “nice and patient” parents who have failed to prevent a public tantrum at a supermarket, giving their toddler the cold shoulder fifteen minutes after when he comes running up to his parents after his latest accomplishment. Not only is this confusing for the child, it is quite tragic.
Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.