a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kids and the Art of Giving Them Control While Maintaining Control

There is no need to engage in power struggles or battles of will with young children who are seeking to exert their independence. 

1. Learning independence is a very important and necessary step for young children.
2. Allowing, and teaching, correct independence is a very difficult but necessary step for many parents.

With a little bit of forethought, you can help your kids learn decision-making skills and lessen verbal tug-of-wars at the same time ----- simply by offering choices.

Choices that are all acceptable and agreeable to you!

  • Would you like to wear this outfit or this outfit?
  • Would you like to take this toy with you or this toy?
  • Would you like to have peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and honey?
  • Would you like to skip to bed, walk backwards to bed, or take giant steps?
  • Would you like to take your nap now or after your bath?
  • Would you like to eat your carrots or your salad before you have your French fries?
  • Mommy needs some time to talk on the phone (or needs some quiet time, or whatever), would you like to look at books or listen to a tape?
You are showing respect for them by neither demanding --- nor asking them to decide from a "field" that may be too broad for them to even be able to cope with.   'What do you want to wear" or "What do you want to eat" may be beyond their ability to make a quick decision and may be even frustrating. It also leaves the door wide open for them to request something that is not acceptable to you. What happens then?

By giving specific choices between two or three acceptable choices, you are giving them the opportunity to make a choice. . .  at the same time you are staying in control of the situation.

Words are important and the seemingly little difference in what word you choose to use will make a BIG difference in the outcome.

Use the word "WHEN" instead of the word "IF."

"You may have ice cream when you finish your dinner" instead of  "You may have ice cream if you finish your dinner.

Do you see the difference?

WHEN is a reward! and  IF is a bribe.

Psychologists tell us we have lost our power when -----
  • We act inconsistently.
  • We let our children intimidate us.
  • We let our children manipulate us.
  • We let our children put us on guilt trips.
  • We let our children learn they can out-argue us or at least out-last us.
  • We try to be peers rather than parents.
Psychologist James Jones suggests that when a child disagrees with your request or decision, the simplest way to handle it is by saying "I know you don't like it but nevertheless (or regardless)...," then repeating the request or decision.  

And, he says to repeat the same phrase over and over (and over) as long as necessary, keeping your voice level and conversational. By doing this, you are acknowledging their dislike while at the same time closing the argument gap. They will probably be frustrated; you will be in control. 

If you implement these tools while your children are young they will quickly learn that:
you mean what you say. . .  
your rules and expectations are consistent. . .and 
so are the consequences. 

Your battles will be over, or over quicker, for the most part. Trust me----and the professionals on this.

If your kids are older and the battles are an everyday part of life, please don't give up. It is never too late to start, it will just be a little harder. Even when they fight it tooth and nail, and though they would never admit it in a million years, kids long for clarity and boundaries and the security both provide. 

Trite but True: It is never too late! Nothing is impossible; impossible just takes a little longer.

Those who do too much for their children, will soon find they can do nothing with their children. 
                                                                                                               Neal A. Maxwell

No comments: