The clock is ticking and you really need to get out the door.
But your kid is taking forever.
You can feel the pressure mounting in your head. You’re going to be late, and you hate that.
But he’s not making any motion to get his shoes on, and seems to dawdle even more.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, it’s become routine. And you’re sick of it.
Finally, you resort to yelling and threatening:
“That’s it! If you don’t get your shoes on right this second, no computer today!”
It may make you wince to see me use the word “threaten” here.
You don’t want to be someone who resorts to threatening, let alone with your kids.
Yet the dictionary defines threaten like this:
“To state one’s intention to take hostile action against someone in retribution for something done or not done.”
The definition may seem extreme in this case, but to your child having his computer taken away without notice or choice IS hostile.
Now don’t worry, I’m not going to call the parent police! We’ve all done this.
We do it because we’re at our wit’s end, reasoning doesn’t seem to work, and we don’t know what else to do.
We do it because we have multiple responsibilities and really need to get out the door. But as I’ll explain, threatening may sometimes get you what you want, but it also can create serious long-term consequences for your kid.
When you threaten, your kid may comply in the moment. But they’ll feel bullied, resentful, and essentially powerless.
Just imagine how you’d feel if someone threatened to take something away from you because you weren’t complying with their demands.
Would you feel like complying, or would you feel resentful and angry?
Now imagine if a child is hearing this day after day. Slowly but surely, she will come to believe she’s not important, and that she doesn’t have a choice. She will grow up to think other people know what’s better for her. She will keep her mouth shut even though she has different preferences.
And she will believe this because the most important people in her formative years led her to think this was so.
Now imagine you told your child:
“Honey, I get how much fun you’re having and that you don’t want to get in the car now. What if we hop, skip, or race to the car?”
We used to do this with our kids all the time—from getting in the bath to getting into bed—and it really worked.
When you make your request into a game—and you give them a choice—children feel that their voice matters.
We want our kids to have pleasant memories of childhood. From my experience of working with thousands of people, when kids have a choice, they conclude, “I am powerful, I am important, what I want matters.”
These are the most common self-esteem beliefs that people deal with all the time. Threatening and lecturing may get your children to do what you want them to do, but at what cost?
If you validate your child’s feelings, make what you want them to do enticing, use humor and give choices, you still get them to do what you want WHILE creating positive beliefs instead of negative ones.
I’ve seen this work for thousands of parents, even in situations where they were really struggling with their children’s behavior. This approach works, and I want as many parents as possible to be able to benefit from it.
It’s the reason I’ve joined the community of experts at Flourish, where you’ll find truly helpful insights, tips, and strategies that will take the struggle out of parenting and replace it with more harmony, joy, and fun!
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